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    Recognizing and searching for Voyager authority records

    • Product: Voyager
    • Relevant for Installation Type: Multi-Tenant Direct, Dedicated-Direct, Local, TotalCare



    Tips for recognizing and searching for authority records in Voyager's cataloging client.


    How to recognize authority records?

    Authority records are easily recognizable in the Voyager database. They have a yellow star-shaped icon that looks like a "sheriff's badge" in the upper-left corner. And the record number in the title bar is preceded by "Auth."  You also can via Options > Preferences set authority records to have a specifically colored background.

    Although background color, star icon, and record number are the quickest ways to identify authority records in Voyager, they can also be recognized by their fairly distinctive MARC tagging structure:

    Each authority record will have a 1XX tag (e.g. names of persons will be tagged 100, names of organizations will be tagged 110, topical subject headings will be tagged 150, etc.). Most of the time, the 1XX field contains the authorized form of the heading (i.e. the form we should be using as an access point in our bibliographic records). Occasionally the 1XX contains a heading that is not authorized for use (e.g. a series-like phrase) and the record provides further instructions for the cataloger to follow.

    Authority records may also have one or more 4XX tags containing variant forms of the authorized heading. These variant forms display as "see" references in the catalog and help direct users to the correct heading.

    Authority records will sometimes have one or more 5XX tags. These contain headings that are somehow *related* to the authorized heading. These headings display as "see also" references in the catalog and help direct users to other headings that they may find useful.

    Finally, authority records usually have one or more 670 tags. These contain citations to works consulted by catalogers when establishing headings and cross references. These citations do not display to the public but they can help staff determine whether they have found the correct authority record.

    Other more specialized MARC tags do occur in authority records (e.g. most series authority records have 64X fields that detail classification, tracing, and analysis decisions) but the 1xx, 4xx, 5xx, and 670 tags are the most common ones.

    Record image


    Searching for authority records

    Most staff will be using the Authorities Validation box to help them verify headings and find authority records. But authority records can also be searched "from scratch" using any of the following methods:

    1) To search by Voyager ID #, select the menu commands "Record>Retrieve By Record ID>Authority"

    2) To search by Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN), select the index called "Auth LCCN (010a)"

    3) To search by former NOTIS ID #, select the index called "Auth System Number (035a)"

    4) To search by a heading, select one of these four indexes:

    • Staff Name Headings Search 
    • Staff Name/Title Headings Search 
    • Staff Title Headings Search 
    • Staff Subject Headings Search

    Note: Other indexes (e.g. Title) will not retrieve authority records.

    Pick the Staff Heading index that matches the type of heading you are searching (for example: Staff Name Headings Search). Type in your search string and click "Do Search". If your search retrieves results, a Headings List will appear.

    Look in the left-hand column. If you see the word "Authorized," that means the heading in question is authorized and can be used as an access point in a bib record. If you see the word "Reference," that means the heading is a cross reference form. In either case, you can click on the heading to highlight it, and then click on the button marked "Authority" to actually retrieve the authority record and view the authorized heading.

    Which Staff Headings index should you use?

    In Voyager, you must select an index based on heading type. There are four Staff Heading indexes in Voyager.  We list them below and then provide a description of each:

    • Staff Name Headings Search
    • Staff Name/Title Headings Search
    • Staff Title Headings Search
    • Staff Subject Headings Search

    Staff Name Headings Search

    Indexes the following types of authority records:

    • personal names (e.g. "Stitt, Sonny")
    • corporate names (e.g. "New York Public Library")
    • conference names (e.g. "Conference on Aging")
    • jurisdiction names (e.g. "Peru")

    Words of Caution: 

    Personal names that are *only* valid for use as subject headings cannot be found using this index. Names of families are included in this category (e.g. "Borgia family"). Use the Staff Subject Headings Search to find authority records for names of families.

    Staff Name/Title Headings Search 

    Indexes the following types of authority records:

    • personal name/titles (e.g. "Joyce, James, 1882-1941. Ulysses. Italian")
    • corporate name/titles(e.g. "Catholic Church. Book of hours")
    • conference name/titles (e.g. "Congreso Obrero (1st : 1918 : Motul, Mexico). Tierra y libertad")
    • jurisdiction name/titles (e.g. "France. Treaties, etc. Portugal, 1886 May 12")

    Words of Caution:

    Cross references for the name portions of name/title headings are not normally carried in the name/title authority record. Instead they are found only in the authority record for the name by itself. Thus, if you search the Staff Name/Title index using an unauthorized form of name, you may not find any useful cross references to guide you to the record you want.

    If you don't know the authorized form of name, a good search strategy is to first search the name portion of the heading in the Staff Name Headings index. Then, once you find the authorized name, you can use it to search the Staff Name/Title Heading index with greater confidence. 


    If you search the Staff Name/Title index using "bach j s" you will not find a cross reference to a name-title heading beginning with "Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750." But, if you perform that same search in the Staff Name Headings index you will find out that the authorized form of the name is "Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750." Then, you can use this authorized form of name in the Staff Name/Title index to look for Bach name/title authority records.

    Staff Title Headings Search

    Indexes the following types of authority records:

    • series uniform titles that do not have a name heading as the entry element (e.g. "Astronomy and astrophysics series")
    • other uniform titles that do not have a name heading as the entry element (e.g. "King Kong (Motion picture : 1933)")

    Words of Caution:

    It is not enough to simply look at a list of headings and see that a series authority record exists for a particular title. You need to actually open the series authority record to verify such things as whether the series is analyzed or not, traced or not, classed separately or together. Sometimes the record will even tell you that the title is to be transcribed in a note.

    Staff Subject Headings Search

    Indexes the following types of authority records:

    • topical subject headings (e.g. "Paper airplanes")
    • geographic headings that are not jurisdictions (e.g. "Red River Gorge (Ky.)")
    • any heading with a subject subdivision (e.g. Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Books and reading")
    • almost all other headings

    Words of Caution:

    Because most name, name/title, and title headings are valid for use as subject headings, authority records for most of these headings can be found using a Staff Subject Headings search. An important exception is headings for superseded names of jurisdictions. These headings are not valid for use as a subject because one is generally supposed to use the current name of a jurisdiction when assigning subject headings (e.g. the former name of "Haiti" is "Saint-Domingue"; "Saint-Domingue" may be used in a bib record as a main or added entry but not as a subject heading; thus, you can only find the authority record for "Saint-Domingue" in the Staff Name Heading index).

    You might wonder how Voyager knows the difference. The system is reading one of the fixed fields in the authority record, namely the "Heading Use--Subject Added Entry" fixed field (008/15 in MARC21-speak). In the authority record for "Saint-Domingue" this value is "b" meaning "not appropriate for use as a subject added entry."

    Non-Staff Headings Indexes (Names and Subjects)

    Although these non-staff headings indexes cannot be used to retrieve authority records, they can be very useful for authority work.  They include NAMES and SUBJECTS.


    • Article last edited: 12-Aug-2020