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One of the primary goals of Authority control is to collocate all resources related to a given topic, genre, person, corporate body, etc. under a single, uniform heading. Authority control tasks that support this goal include:
  • assisting catalogers in finding and using authorized headings
  • identifying headings in new bib records that match or do not match an authorized heading 
  • automated updating of unauthorized headings to authorized forms
  • identifying headings that have been automatically updated but may need additional review
  • identifying headings which could not be safely updated to an authority form and need review and/or updating by a cataloger
  • updating bibliographic headings in response to changes in authority record headings
While Alma supports each of the above tasks to varying degrees, cases have been found where Alma’s currently functionality does not support the above tasks to the degree we would like. The Alliance would like to find ways to approach authority control in collaborative ways that minimize the time staff at any member institution spends on authority control work, while achieving the primary goals of authority control, i.e., a good user experience and more efficient cataloging workflows. 

Authority control within the Alliance’s Alma environment is further complicated by our use of WorldCat master records as our master records in Alma. Any heading changes made in Alma are subject to loss whenever an Alma bib record is overlaid as part of the daily load of updated WorldCat records.

Ex Libris has agreed to include authority control as an issue under investigation and development through the Center of Excellence, our development partnership. The Center of Excellence initiative scheduling is pending.  Dana Sharvit will serve as the Ex Libris lead and Cassie Schmitt as the Alliance lead.


The Authority Control Group is charged with exploring and implementing current Alma functionality where it is safe to do so, advocating for improvements in Alma, and recommending an Alliance-wide approach to performing authority control tasks in our Alma environment. To that end, the group will serve as the Alliance body supporting the related Center of Excellence Initiative. The group will identify priority consortial activities and develop workflows and documentation to support them; and to consider possible efficiencies related to authority control workflows. Activities of the group are expected to be accomplished in three phases:

Phase 1:  Explore current Alma functionality related to authority control, document Alma functionality gaps, and review authority control options available in OCLC’s WorldCat/Connexion. Phase 1 will lay the groundwork for the COE Initiative.

Phase 1B:  During this phase, the Authority Control Group is charged with continuing to explore and document current Alma functionality related to authority control. See detailed areas to cover in Phase 1B.

Phase 2:  Work with Ex Libris staff on implementing existing Alma authority control functionality where possible, including consulting with Ex Libris on the design of the authority control task list, advocating for Alma enhancements where necessary, working with Ex Libris to design enhancements that meet our needs, and test enhancements as they become available.

Phase 3:  Develop authority control workflows that accomplish authority control goals and tasks within our unique Alma environment, and an Alliance-wide collaborative model for supporting authority control in Alma.

TSWG will provide a liaison to the group. The liaison is a resource for clarifying the charge and will check in periodically to ensure that the group is on target to submit its report.


No dates have been set for completion of phases 2 and 3, as much is dependent on the Center of Excellence initiative. Therefore, regular communication with the TSWG is encouraged. 

Abby Bibee, Chair (May 2016-forward)
Reed College

Ryan Hildebrand, Chair (Fall 2015-April 2016)
University of Oregon
Karen Highum University of Washington
Wayne Richter Western Washington University
Andriana Yovcheva Pacific University (until October 2016)
Lihong Zhu Washington State University
Bob Thomas, TSWG Liaison Western Washington University
Cassie Schmitt, COE Liaison Orbis Cascade Alliance

Authority Control Group Phase 1b Report: Sandbox testing (September 2016)

Abby Bibee (Reed), "Authority Control: Update on Current Landscape," Orbis Cascade Alliance Summer Meeting, Portland, OR, July 13, 2016. - pdf

Authority Control Group Phase 1 Report (March 2016)