Hierarchical Gaps and Subject Authority Control Processing : an Assessment

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date

Spring 2003


Subject authority control procedures vary widely from library to library. Some processes are manual, they have varying staffing levels, and many are out-sourced and automated. There are two main goals behind the application of these procedures. The first is to standardize the terminology which is used in bibliographic records. The secondary effect is to help guide a patron from general, broad terminology to more specific, narrower headings which he or she might need. This need for records from the upper hierarchy is not unique to subject headings. Name headings for subordinate bodies exhibit the same requirement, although in what is generally a more contained environment. For topical subject headings, however, this can become significantly more complex.

In this study we examined nine months of reports of new topical or geographic subject headings in our catalog. We downloaded new authority records when needed. We then examined those newly downloaded records to determine if they needed supporting authority records based on the broader terms from those new headings.


This article was originally published in Library Philosophy and Practice. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


Library Philosophy and Practice


© The Authors 2003