Name Authorities: General Procedures

Optional Fields

For the optional fields in a name authority record, include or add these fields whenever the information is readily available in the resource being cataloged, and can quickly be added. No significant research should be done, and no extra sources need be consulted, to find values for the optional attributes in a name authority record.

Research in OCLC

Before adding a new name to the authority file, always search the OCLC authority file to see if the name is already established. If no record for the name is found, additionally search the OCLC authority file for any possible earlier (predecessor) names. One way to do this, is to conduct a keyword search using the parent body (should one exist), plus only one (at a time) of the following significant keywords. For example, when establishing: "United States. Environmental Protection Agency. Management Information Systems Division," enter the keywords: "Environmental Protection Agency Management." Conduct two additional searches: "Environmental Protection Agency Information," and: "Environmental Protection Agency System*." Use wildcards as needed to retrieve differing forms of a keyword.

If you find a similar name to the one you are creating, you must determine the relationship between the two names through research. For example: consult the publication in hand (the resource being cataloged), the Internet (including uncataloged publications found there), back issues of Carroll's Federal Directory, and of course, make phone calls or send emails. If you identify the existing authority record as the immediate predecessor, link the two records using properly coded reciprocal 510 or 511 fields. Only link immediately consecutive names; do not link names that are "twice removed." If a different type of relationship is found between your name and the existing name, and you feel it is important to bring out, you may add that information, reciprocally, to both records in the appropriate fields. Sometimes, it is helpful to add a 667 note such as: "cannot link directly to: [insert other name]," or "not same as: [insert other name]."

How Much Research Should Be Performed in Order to Identify or Dismiss Relationships to Other Corporate Bodies with Similar Names Found in OCLC's Authority File? 

Perform the following research:

1. Quickly check the work cataloged and the agency Web site, to see if either contains a history section, which may include the very information you are seeking.

2. Search Carroll's Federal Directory for the name you are establishing (or updating). Use the year of Carroll's that matches the resource cataloged (or the closest year available). Next, search Carroll's Federal Directory for the similar, pre-existing name you found in OCLC. For this name, start with the same issue of Carroll's used to search for the name you are establishing, but if not found, search the next issue of Carroll's that matches (or comes closest to) the year cited in a 670 field of the OCLC record for the similar, pre-existing name. If both names are found, work your way through the intervening years of Carroll's (you may sample every few years), in order to identify name changes. This research may prove to be either conclusive or inconclusive.

Examples of a conclusive relationship:

a. A linear name change is identified. (Record the relationship)

b. Both names co-exist simultaneously. (Usually, no relationship is recorded. A 667 note may be added, in the form of "Not same as [other name]" or "Do not confuse with [other name]."

Negative evidence may also be considered conclusive. Examples:

a. Multiple name changes are found in between the two names; and two or more of these are not found in the OCLC authority file. No relationship is recorded. Option: if two intervening names are found in Carroll's which are not in OCLC's authority file, and the linear progression appears straightforward, you may search OCLC's bibliographic file for these names. If one or more are found, and the task of recording this progression appears to be fairly straightforward, you may apply the option in number 3 below, of establishing one or more of these names from the bibliographic records found in OCLC.

b. Two name changes are found, so that the two bodies you are seeking are linked to the same intervening body. If the intervening body is found in the OCLC authority file, all 3 bodies can be sequentially linked. If the intervening body is not found in the OCLC authority file, no relationship is recorded. You may, however, add a 667 note to the records for both bodies, in the form of "Cannot link directly to [other name]" or "Unable to link directly to [other name]." At the same time, you may also include the information found in Carroll's about the intervening body in a 670 note. Follow the name of the intervening body with "[no access point in OCLC, (insert date searched)]." (Or: "[no publications in OCLC database, (insert date searched)]") See LC-PCC PS Earlier names not likely to be needed as relationships.

3. Now, you should search OCLC's bibliographic file for the intervening corporate body. If not found, you are done. However, if you do find the name in even one bibliographic record in OCLC, you may create an authority record for this name, with the caveat that the name is transcribed in the descriptive portion of the record. If the name is only found in access points (1XX, 6XX, 7XX) but not in the description (245, 260, 264, 5XX), do not create an authority record for it. If the name is found in the description, create an authority record for this intervening name, giving the first 670 in the following form: 670 OCLC, [insert date searched] ǂb (hdg.: [insert heading found]; usage: [insert usage found]. Be selective. You may list multiple usages that seem to be accurate transcriptions, and multiple headings that adhere to the rules under which the record was created. Once you create the authority record for the intervening corporate body, link it to its predecessor and successor records, and remove any preliminary 667 notes and "[no publications in OCLC database]" phrases. [Note: the procedure just described is somewhat out of sequence. This paragraph, which begins with "Now, you should search OCLC's bibliographic file," should logically occur after the third sentence in the paragraph just above this, after "no relationship is recorded." This somewhat illogical sequence is offered as a time-saver, since: (1) the information recorded from Carroll's provides a convenient place-holder, and (2), this information usually remains in the record since publications are not usually found in OCLC.]

Examples of an inconclusive relationship:

a. Only one or none of the names are found in Carroll's.

b. The names found in Carroll's are different, and cannot be matched with those you are seeking.

If searching Carroll's is inconclusive, contact the agency via phone call or email, asking if a direct relationship can be identified between the two names. If not, your research is completed, and you may establish the new corporate body without recording any relationship.

While the above research may seem excessive when similarly named corporate bodies are only cited in publications that may be 35 or more years old, surprises have come up, when the earlier name has persisted, and only recently changed to the name that is being established. It is worth a couple of hours of research to identify or dismiss such relationships, in order to expand user access to successors and predecessors.

When to Consult Additional Sources

If research in OCLC does not result in any possible related names, it is usually not necessary to consult any additional sources beyond the resource cataloged. However, if the resource cataloged is not issued by the entity whose name you are establishing in the authority file, do consult at least one additional source. This guidance would apply to all names, corporate or personal, that are needed as subjects for the resource cataloged (unless said name also issued the work). For a corporate body, it will usually suffice to consult its Web site, in addition to the resource cataloged. For a personal name, a few searches on the Internet will usually suffice to determine the preferred name. GPO's local policy is based on its experience that publications issued by an entity tend to be more accurate in rendering their name than publications not issued by them.

Therefore, for corporate bodies, GPO prefers the name found in items issued by that body. When a resource is not issued by a corporate body, consult an additional source such as its Web site, which is issued by that body. If the name on the Web site or other source issued by the body differs from the name in the resource cataloged, use the name on the Web site as the preferred name, and the name on the resource cataloged as the variant name. Use the resource cataloged as the first 670, even though the name cited therein was not chosen for the 1XX. Use the Web site (or other source issued by the body) as the second 670. Many USGS reports (in various series) exemplify this situation.

On the t.p. of the resource cataloged: "prepared in cooperation with City of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Community Development Services." This body did not issue this USGS report, therefore, consult: City of Hopkinsville, Community and Development Services Web site: "City of Hopkinsville, Community and Development Services." [Note the addition of the word "and" after "Community."]

Thus: 1101 Hopkinsville (Ky.). ǂb Community and Development Services

4101 Hopkinsville (Ky.). ǂb Community Development Services

670 Flood-inundation maps for an 8.9-mile reach of the South Fork Little River at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, 2013: ǂb PDF t.p. (City of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Community Development Services)

670 Community and Development Services, City of Hopkinsville [Ky.] Web site, Apr. 9, 2013. [Note: no ǂb is needed, because it would add nothing to the ǂa, which itself adds nothing to the 1XX.]

What if the Web site contains the same exact name as the item—should the Web site still be cited even though it contains no additional information? In this situation, when the item is not issued by the body, go ahead and cite the Web site in an additional 670, even though the name found is redundant. Thus:

On the t.p. of the resource cataloged: "prepared in cooperation with the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, Division of Ecological Restoration."

1101 Massachusetts. ǂb Department of Fish and Game. ǂb Division of Ecological Restoration

670 Estimated sediment thickness, quality, and toxicity to benthic organisms in selected impoundments in Massachusetts, 2013: ǂb PDF t.p. (Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, Division of Ecological Restoration)

670 Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, Division of Ecological Restoration Web site, Apr. 10, 2013.

GPO creates or modifies personal name authority records for persons used as subjects (field 600), and, in Congressionals only, for persons used as authors (field 100 or 700). For personal names, GPO follows RDA 9.2.2 and 9.2.3. For persons used as subjects, consult a few additional sources by performing a few searches on the Internet, in order to determine the preferred name. For persons used as authors, there is no need to consult additional sources unless the authorized access point chosen for the person conflicts with that in another authority record.

When searching the Internet for names, in the situations described above, generally avoid citing Wikipedia. This instruction applies to names, not to subjects. For the Wikipedia policy on subjects, see Subject Cataloging: Subject Heading Proposals, Background and Tips. For names, use sources other than Wikipedia whenever possible.

Tips for contacting agencies

  • Take time to identify knowledgeable contacts. Use the agency's Web site, or Carroll's Federal Directory.
  • Do your homework first so you can determine, identify, and develop your questions.
  • Begin with: "Hello, I'm calling/emailing from the U.S. Government Publishing Office."
  • Explain what we do, why, and what your questions have to do with this.
  • Use layperson language, not cataloger language. Instead of using the term "corporate body," which might connote "corporations," speak in terms of "government authors and issuing bodies of publications," for which we provide "access points" for searching.
  • Explain what you found, and what you don't know.
  • Ask open-ended questions.