Authority control (or access point control) refers to the normalisation of controlled access points (headings) and the provision of alternative and related access points. Authority control:

  • Supports the find function through the collocation of works by a given author or the collocation of anonymous works by title
  • Supports the identify function via the disambiguation of names of persons, corporate bodies or titles of works and expressions
  • Is also used to identify and relate resources by subject.

Controlled access points for authorized, variant forms created for authority control and the relationships between authority records underpin navigation by end users.

Authority control remains a predominantly manual process and automation of the process is a precondition for scalability. The ISNI and ISTC aim to deliver machine readable identifiers for names and titles.

Projects such as VIAF and People Australia are experimenting with automated matching of authority data. Publishers are increasingly aware of the potential contribution automated authority process can make to rights management and developing automated approaches to identification of authors, e.g. Elsevier’s SCOPUS service.

IFLA has published Guidelines for Authority Records and References, which describes the traditional process and principles for creating authority data (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, Working Group on GARE Revision, 2001).