Below is a brief introduction to OCLC's Authority History file, a new feature accessible to all cataloging authorizations via Connexion Browser with the November 12 system installation and via the Connexion Client 1.70, planned for release in December. Functionality is basically the same in both interfaces. Some details specific to the client will be added, and this introduction will be redistributed before the release of client 1.70. This introduction is for browser users.



Use the Authority History database to view superseded versions of records in order to trace the changes made to a given heading and/or the history of an LCCN.  Access to Authority History is available to all cataloging users.  Records are read-only.  You cannot edit records. You can copy and paste, as well as flag and/or print superseded authority records.


Using the Connexion browser, you can access the Authority History database from the Authorities tab. Select Authority History under Search Option or Browse Option.  The indexes for the Authority File and Authority History database are different.   One important distinction is that all 1xx and 4xx heading fields (100, 110, 111, etc.) are combined into a single 'Heading' index for both searching and browsing. 


Search the browser Help for the term “indexed fields” for details on indexes.


Browsing in the Authority History database does not currently support Root and Expanded indexes, and the index terms in the browse results display in all UPPERCASE LETTERS.   Also, diacritics and subfield codes are not included in the browse list display for the Authority History database.  





OCLC's Authority History database is retrospective to 2001.  As part of the RLG merger, OCLC is in the process of loading RLG's superseded authority file, comprised of approximately 5 million authority records dating back to 1985.  The RLG records selected for comparison and loading include all deleted records distributed by the Library of Congress, as well as all superseded records not already represented in the OCLC Authority History database. 


Current versions of distributed records are being compared to ensure completeness of the Authorities file.   At this time, OCLC is continuing to compare and load the superseded records into the Authority History database.  A separate message will be posted to appropriate listservs when this project is completed.


OCLC added an OCLC ARN to each RLG authority record.  When superseded versions of an existing authority record were added, the OCLC ARN of the distributed version was added to each superseded record.  When no distributed version of a record exists, a newer ARN was used.  





 When a user retrieves a record in the Authority File, it can have an unlimited number of superseded versions.   For *each* record in Authority File (a distributed record), an exact copy of the distributed record is in the Authority History database.


Using the Connexion Browser, users can access the Authority History database by selecting Authority History from the Search Options or Browse Options lists on the Authorities tab. 


When viewing a distributed authority record, you can access the superseded versions of the record by selecting 'View Authority History Record(s)'.  If only a single record exists in the Authority History file, the system displays the single record.  If more than one record is retrieved, a list of all matches is presented.


From a displayed Authority History record, select 'View Authority Record' to view the distributed record.    However, if there is no distributed version (e.g., the record has been deleted) a message informs you that no record was found and shows a list of superseded or deleted versions in the Authority History database.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Navigation between the Authority File and the Authority History database uses the OCLC ARN as the search key. As a result, to research a merged record, you may want to search the Authority History database using the LCCN.


There are also two instances when navigation between Authorities and Authority History databases is *not* supported:

1.    Navigation to access the Authority History is not available from a Saved or Submitted authority record.

2.    When you click a linked heading and an authority record is displayed in a new window, no navigational functionality to the Authority History database is available from within that window.


If, when viewing a record in the Authority History database, you select to view a 5xx heading, the distributed version of the record (from the Authority File) opens. 






In Distribution:

When an OCLC NACO participant adds a new record or modifies an existing record, the label IN DISTRIBUTION appears in the record.  This label indicates that the authority record is in the distribution cycle. The labell remain  until the record is distributed by the Library of Congress.  Only records in the Authority File can have the IN DISTRIBUTION label. 


A version of the new or modified record is in the Authority History database, but it will *not* have the IN DISTRIBUTION label.



In the Authority History database, each record includes a TIMESTAMP. The timestamp notes the date/time when the record was loaded into the Authority History database.  Except for the RLG load of superseded records, the TIMESTAMP label is *not* the 005 date--no change was made to the location or format of the 005 field.  For the RLG superseded records, the timestamp is the same date as the date in the 005 field and was used to ensure correct sorting.  


The timestamp is unique to records in the Authority History database. It does not appear in records in the Authorities File.  


Search the browser Help for the term “timestamp” for more details.




--Becky Dean
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