Authority files: getting started

Are you new to SCIS authority files, or not sure about the best workflow for your library? This post outlines the decision making process as a simple guide to getting started with authority files.

Why should we load SCIS authority files into our catalogue?
Check out this post on why SCIS authority files are valuable.

How do we decide which file(s) to download?

SCIS Authority Files page

When you are faced with the SCIS Authority Files page for the first time, there are three key decisions to consider.

  1. Subject or Name authority first?
    SCIS provides authority files for subjects and for names. We suggest you start with the subject authority file as this provides maximum benefit to searchers of your catalogue.
    Then repeat the process for the name authority once you have completed the subject authority.
  2. Reference only or Full authority files?
    Reference only Authority Files are highly recommended as the minimum for all schools. Importing authority records with see or see also references greatly enhances the power of search for users of your library system.
    If most of your catalogue records are sourced from SCIS and you do little or no original cataloguing, loading the SCIS Reference only Authority Files is a good first step. Note: You can always load the full authority files later if you find you need these.
    Full Authority Files contain the entire set of authority records from the SCIS database.
    Does your library have a qualified cataloguer who creates a significant number of original catalogue records, and would benefit from access to the full list of SCIS headings from within the cataloguing and/or authorities module of your library system? In this case the Full Authority Files could be the best choice.
  3. MARC or ascii format?
    Different library systems require different formats for importing SCIS authority files. You will need to check with your library system vendor support team about which to use. Please ensure you consult the most recent documentation for your system.

So, how do we proceed with download and import?

  1. It is advisable to do a full backup of your library system before loading authorities for the first time.
  2. Download the required authority file from the SCIS Authority Files page [SCIS Authority Files subscription required].
  3. Activate the process in your library management system to import or upload the authority file.
  4. Run any updating or indexing workflow required by your library system.

How do we know the authorities are working?

  1. Do an OPAC subject search for a common non-preferred term, such as
    Cooking (should redirect to Cookery), Chickens (should redirect to Poultry) or Hurricanes (should redirect to Cyclones).
  2. If you loaded the Full Subject Authority File, then check in your library system’s authorities or cataloguing module for new subject headings from the latest SCIS Subject Heading List.

Further help for SCIS Authority Files

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