Task Group on Authorities Survey Results Amy M. McColl 06 Oct 1993 21:49 UTC

This message is being cross-posted to several listservs; apologies
for duplication.

TO:  Respondents to Cooperative Cataloging Council Task
Group on Authorities Survey

FROM: Task Group on Authorities; Barbara Tillett, Chair

The Cooperative Cataloging Council's Task Group on Authorities (Task
Group 3) met in Washington D.C. on September 24-25 to formulate its
preliminary recommendations.

We were assisted and encouraged in this task by those of you who
completed and returned the survey that we circulated in July and
August.  We received a total of 105 completed surveys from a wide
variety of libraries in the United States, Canada, and England.  The
detailed reponses were invaluable to us as we sought ways in which
contributions to the national authority files could be eased and
broadened.  Many thanks to all of you who put effort into writing
very thoughtful and helpful responses.

In order to share the responses to our survey, Karen Calhoun compiled
the results in a full report with an Executive Summary.  We would
like to thank Karen for her hard work.  The Executive Summary follows
here.  The full report of survey results is a 7-page document that
may be requested from Barbara Tillett

The recommendations from the Task Group on Authorities on easing
and broadening contributions to the national authority file will be
posted at the end of October or early November.


The Cooperative Cataloging Council Task Group on Authorities is
charged with developing recommendations to ease and broaden
contributions to the national authority files (name and subject).  To
gather information, the task group distributed a survey.  There were
105 responses, representing all types of libraries.  Thirty-eight
percent of the respondents participate in the national cooperative
authority programs that are currently in place (i.e., the NACO and
CSCP programs).

Fifty-four percent of the respondents felt that every bibliographic
heading needs a record in the national authority files, 35% did not,
and 11% were not sure.  Proponents felt full coverage of headings in
the national files would save duplication of effort, confirm
authorized forms, and allow authority work to be delegated to support
staff.  Opponents felt that authority records without cross
references are not needed or that supplying authority records for
every heading would be too expensive.  Many opponents also noted that
while all names, uniform titles, and series might need authority
records, it is not necessary to have records for all subject
heading/subdivision combinations.

A large majority of respondents maintain local authority files for
names (90%), series (86%), uniform titles (77%), and subjects (65%).
Many respondents (43%) create local authority records by keying them
on the local system; the next-largest group (30%) capture them from a
bibliographic utility.  Remaining respondents get records from a
vendor, keep manual card files, or capture records from locally
mounted copies of the LC files.

Most respondents (72%) are willing to contribute their locally
created records to a national authority file.  Seventy-six percent of
their systems use the USMARC format for authority data.  Survey
results suggest the best mechanism for adding records might be
uploading files via FTP from a local system or utility to a national
resource file.

A key finding is that libraries do not want to double key their
authority records.  While 60% of respondents' systems can import MARC
authority records, only 15% can export them.  For FTP transfer to
become a reality, the ability to import and export MARC authority
records needs to be more fully implemented.

Libraries appear willing to participate in a national authorities
program, but they need economic incentives, education, improved
technology, and practical input standards.  When asked what would
entice them to contribute, respondents said credit for contributions
(monetary from OCLC, free searches from RLG), training programs, more
information about current programs, easier contribution systems,
simplification of rules, and creation of a "minimal-level" authority

The top three system enhancements selected by respondents were
ability to transmit records from the local system, ability to
transmit records online or via email, and windowing of authority and
bibliographic records with easy transfer of data.  A little more than
half of the respondents would welcome expansion of the national
authority files with records created with machine assistance.
However, they felt that such records would be valuable only with
human review involved.

Respondents had serious concerns about greatly expanding
contributions to the national authority file.  The overwhelming
concerns were for quality control, training, and conformance to
standards.  Clearly, libraries feel the need for an orderly,
controlled approach to expanding the national authority files.
Virtually all respondents said they would need additional training if
they were to begin contributing authority records to the national
files.  There was a general consensus that regional workshops, led by
qualified trainers (perhaps certified by LC or NACO sites), would be
the best and least costly training method.

As for techniques for easing contribution to LCSH, respondents'
suggestions were to streamline the editorial process, not abolish it.
Respondents particularly want to be able to enter subject authority
proposals online.

The principal features of the ideal authority system described by
respondents to the survey are a single, comprehensive resource file
for all to use; a large number of participants ("at least 1,000
libraries"); online, easy, free access; easy data transfer methods;
widely available initial and ongoing training; high quality records;
good documentation; and the shifting of as much work as possible to

Questions about the survey may be directed to the Cooperative
Cataloging Council Task Group on Authorities, Barbara Tillett, Chair

--Prepared by Karen Calhoun, Task Group member