How It Works
Authority Control offers those who are uncomfortable with the complexities of MARC records a simple way to maintain consistency in their bibliographic records. First off, Authority Control in Alexandria is always enabled and can not be turned off. After the initial launch of Alexandria, one of your first steps will be to import patron and item information. As you do this, Alexandria will create authority control records from your data. Alternately, if you are converting data from a previous version of Alexandria, the software will create a brand new Authority Control database from your existing records. From this point on, any time you add data to an authority-controlled field in Alexandria, your term is automatically added to the Authority Control database. This can be happen during future imports, manual entry of titles, or the conversion of an older Alexandria data set.
After typing the first three characters in an authority-controlled field, Alexandria will check to see if the newly-entered data already exists in your Authority Control database. If the newly-provided data is an exact match against existing data, the field will auto-complete slightly lighter than the characters previously typed. At this point, if you <tab> out of the field, the auto-completed term will be used and your cursor will move to the next editable field. This way, you may add a more current term or select one that already exists.
This interface is used to select the bibliographic (or other) data elements you want authority controlled, the process by which information contained in bibliographic records is standardized using distinct terms for specific data elements. That is to say, operators assign certain data elements (e.g. Author, Title, or Subject) in bibliographic records a unique term which is then used to describe all references to that same element (e.g. “Clemens, Samuel Langhorne”), even if there are spelling variations, pen names, or aliases. When these standards are consistently applied to bibliographic records, your database (i.e. library catalog) is better maintained and organized, keeping it user-friendly and searchable so that patrons can easily find what they are looking for.
Alexandria's Authority Control does not support MARC Authority standards, but works like the “controlled” vocabulary model on MARC and non-MARC data alike. It’s a useful hybrid that does more, far more intuitively. Every time that an entry is made to one of Alexandria's actively controlled data elements (i.e. terms), the Authority Control index is updated. Authority Control is always on and can not be deactivated.
The Authority Control interface uses the familiar layout found in most Alexandria management interfaces.
- Category/Type pane on the left contains a list of all existing authority control categories (e.g. Subjects) and types (e.g. Topical Term). Selections from this pane act as filters, allowing you to narrow your focus and display only relevant authority-controlled types.
- Authority Control Type window on the right allows you to add, remove, or modify terms for the selected category/type as you see fit.
The word authority in authority control derives from its initial use in identifying authors, and does not have the usual meaning of authority as a power relationship, although both senses of the word authority are related etymologically.