What Every Cataloger Needs to Know

Every heading in Alma bib records will be run through two jobs. Both those jobs run every night on new and changed records:

  1. Heading will get linked to an authority with the same string (whether that is your entity or not)
  2. Heading will get flipped to the 1XX of that entity, if your string matches a 4XX (except if the record is in the Community Zone)

A note about the "binoculars" icon in the Alma metadata editor:

  • Presence of this icon indicates only that the heading string is linked to either the 1XX or the 4XX of an authority record. The icon does not indicate that the form of the heading shown is the authorized form. Preferred Term Correction flips linked headings to the authorized form.

New best practice for name headings issued by Metadata Standards:

New policies for local authority records:

  • ITS no longer creates local authority records
  • Local units are discouraged from creating local authorities
  • All units, shared or local, are encouraged to create NACO records

Known issues

See Alma authority control known issues


  • All Library of Congress authority records are in the Community Zone. When searching Alma for authorities, be sure to switch to the Community tab. Additional options for accessing authorized headings are described in Creating and Editing Bibliographic Records.
  • The Alma Community Zone is updated weekly with new and updated LC records. The update occurs Thursday morning by 10am. 
  • In Alma, once you edit a national authority from the Community Zone, it becomes a local record and you are responsible for maintaining it.
  • LCNAF is used for Name Authorities in our Alma implementation.

    • Alma is capable of using a secondary vocabulary for name control as well, although this is not currently configured for Harvard. See the ExL list of vocabulary options

  • For subjects, the 2nd indicator is used to determine which vocabulary should be used. (For 2nd ind 7, $$2 is used as well.)

  • The Authority Control Task List will include some vocabularies that we do not use locally, such as GND and BISAC. These can be ignored.

Alma Jobs - Linking and Term Correction

The Authority Control Task List contains the results of the authority / heading control jobs in Alma that run overnight, every night. The jobs run on new and updated records. There are two separate kinds of jobs that run:

  • Linking: this job links bib headings to authority records. Alma searches all local and LC authorities including subdivisions, or complete terms listed in bibliographic records.

    • If exact matches are found, the bibliographic records are linked to the corresponding authority records.

    • If exact matches are not found, the subdivision fields are disregarded, a search of all authority records is performed once again, and the bibliographic records are linked to the matching authority records that are located during the second search.

    • A bibliographic record that is already linked to your local authority record will not have its link switched to the Community Zone authority record.

    • Read more on how conflicts between local and LC records are handled: Conflicts between local and LC records

  • Preferred term correction: for headings that are linked, this job flips non-preferred terms to preferred.

    • For example, if an authority record is updated to include a death date, this job will take action upon all headings linked to the former heading (without the death date), and flip it to the new preferred heading (with the death date).

Occasionally a heading fails to be linked or updated in the overnight job due to a validation issue with the heading itself or another part of the record such as 008. If that occurs, the entire bulk of 100 fails. Those headings were not a problem, or not on a problematic record, will be processed the next time the job runs. 

Harvard configuration and options supported

Alma supports rules to give us more control over how the process handles certain scenarios. ExL documentation.

Linking rule options

Enabled at Harvard: do not link undifferentiated personal names (based on MARC 21 authority 008 control field, position 32 = "b")

Additional options exist to exclude headings from linking based on: 

      • Authority ID from $0
      • Heading value (contains, equals, in list, not in list, not equals)
      • Field number
      • Source code (aligns with dropdown options in Browse Bib Headings, e.g. corporate name, genre, uniform title...)
      • Vocabulary (CZ vocab codes)

Exclude individual headings on specific bib records from authority control - DO NOT USE - NOT TESTED AT HARVARD

This can be done via ACTL or MDE. 

Note - adding $$9 no_linkage is not supported for creating or updating records via the import process.

Preferred term correction (PTC) rules

No rules currently enabled at Harvard. 

Headings can be excluded from PTC, or can manually mediated by using the option to: Apply mediated preferred term correction. Mediated headings will not be linked automatically – they will be added to the ACTL where they can be filtered and approved one-by-one or in batch (up to 100 records). Once a row is handled in the ACTL it is removed from the ACTL.  

Additional options exist to exclude headings from linking based on: 

      • Authority ID from $0
      • Field number
      • Source code (aligns with dropdown options in Browse Bib Headings, e.g. corporate name, genre, uniform title...)
      • Vocabulary (CZ vocab codes)
      • Indication rule - this allows us to identify a heading or entire record based on almost any attribute in the bib


Not configured at Harvard: tags can be defined to identify certain types of records. Tags will show up on ACTL to support filtering result list. 

Task List and Reports - THIS SECTION IS OUT OF DATE

Similar to the process for handling MARS reports in Aleph, a distributed group of staff will take ownership of these reports. See ACTL - Alma authorities reports

There are two tabs in the Task List containing the reports: the Review tab is a subset of the All tab. We cannot configure which reports appear in which tab.

  • Under each tab, the list can be limited to a specific report type, using the Action drop-down
  • Facets on the left that allow you to limit by Vocabulary and other values
  • The list can be filtered by date, MMS ID, heading, and title. For filters:
    • Use the Inventory filter to limit by Physical to exclude Community Zone records with activated portfolios
    • The search can only be processed on date ranges up to 30 days long
    • The search must be performed on the text in the order that it appears (e.g. as a phrase)

  • All records in the report - up to 100,000 - can be exported

  • Line items can be Dismissed as a way of noting that it has been reviewed by a staff member.
  • Using Dismiss all: This option will only dismiss the items in your current result list (e.g. if you have filtered or faceted, only those results will be dismissed). Dismissing items prevents them from showing up in future searches with the same parameters.

Report Names and Recommended Actions (Course of actions MAY BE OUT OF DATE)

(Action drop-down in task list)


Course of Action for Staff


Linking – Bibliographic heading found no matching authority heading



The Task List may not show the full heading from the bib record. This is because if a match is not found on the entire heading string from the bib, the system then disregards the subdivision fields and searches all authority records again for a "base" match (.e.g. 100 adq). In the Task List, the term used in the latest search for a match is what is displayed, not the whole original heading from the bib. (From ExLibris documentation.)

Linking – Bibliographic heading found multiple matching authority headings (see note)

Review / All

If heading splits into two, review bib records and assign appropriate heading.

If CZ heading matches local heading, remove local heading after adding any additional data to NACO, or disambiguate local heading if appropriate

If there are duplicates in CZ, report to LTS

Occurs in these cases:

    • One subject heading splits into two subject headings
    • A Community Zone authority heading matches a local authority heading
    • There are duplicate LC records in the Community Zone, which will cause a heading to appear on this report. This should be reported to LTS who will report to Ex Libris.
    • 4XX matches a 1XX on another record

After doing significant analysis, Harvard staff report that about all the headings on the list are caused by duplicates or conflicts in the LCNAF. Occasionally someone seems to have entered the same record twice (even 3 times) on the same day, or two libraries enter the same heading days apart, but those have different LCCNs. LC staff are the only ones who can delete these.

Linking – Bibliographic heading linked to an authority record



Harvard has configured this report to not display due to the number of items in the list, in order to improve system performance. To determine whether a heading on a specific bib is linked, open the bib in the MDE and look for the binocular icon.

Linking – Bibliographic heading link changed due to a new authority record replacing an existing authority record (redirection)

Review / All

Preferred term correction – Bibliographic heading updated


Scan list to review potential errors for unqualified names

Preferred term correction – Bibliographic heading found no authorized term

Review / All


When the linked authority record does not have a preferred term matching the nonpreferred term (such as when the nonpreferred term is registered in the 410 field and the preferred term is in the 100 field), the bibliographic record is not updated. In other works, this report occurs if the second two digits in the cross-reference field are different than the authorized access point. (e.g. 100 and 451).

We have noted that some items in this report do not meet the above criteria. This has been reported to ExL in case 00545875.


Preferred term correction – Multiple matching AUT headings with same Originating System ID (ambiguous)

New for March (Year?)

This option references cases where more than one authority record with the same Originating System ID was found.

Authority record deleted – Unlinked the bibliographic heading

Review / All

These may involve tag changes. Bib heading may need to be updated. This list includes headings for personal names which were previously undifferentiated and now have distinct new authority records. There are also subject headings which once utilized a single authority record but now there have more than one.

The task list shows entries only for deleted authorities that were linked to bib headings. It does not show entries for authority records that were deleted but were not linked to bib headings.

Authority record updated



The task list shows entries only for updated authorities that were linked to bib headings. It does not show entries for authority records that were updated but were not linked to bib headings.

Note: This issue may occur as a result of times. (This phrasing is strange - "result of times"??) For example, it may occur when the Library of Congress splits one subject heading into two subject headings (such as when "Nurses and nursing" was split and replaced with "Nurses" and "Nursing"). It may also occur when the system finds a Community Zone authority record and a local authority record match.

Best Practice Workflow for Handling ACTL Reports

  1. Use the filters on the left as needed:
    1. Choose Linked to Community Zone = No (we don't control CZ records)
    2. Choose Vocabulary you want to review (particularly LCSH and LCNAMES)
    3. Filter out suppressed records
  2. Use the date filter to allow the list to load faster.
  3. You may wish to download the list via Excel to help track your work. When downloading the list, the entire list is downloaded, not just the first page.
    1. Only 100,000 lines will be downloaded. If your list is longer than this, you will needs to use filters and do iterative downloads to get a complete output. 
  4. From the All tab, click on a title to view a bib record, then proceed to Edit if needed. If you are on the Review tab, you may go directly to Edit in the option menu on the right.  
    1. You may choose to edit multiple records across multiple pages in the task list, up to 100 records by selecting the check box and choosing from the option menu on the right. (The option only available in the Review tab).

    2. When using the Edit option in the option menu from the Task List, the record is opened in the Metadata Editor, with the cursor in the field that has the issue

      1. The field with the issue will have a green background color, though this may be difficult to see because your cursor is placed in that field.

      2. If there are additional fields in the record with issues, they are also highlighted in a different color.

    3. Make sure to release the record when you are done with it.

    4. Using Dismiss all: This option will only dismiss the list you are currently viewing (e.g. if you have filtered or faceted, only those results will be dismissed). 

    5. The Dismiss option is only available in the Review tab.

Other Notes

  • When working with authority records in the Authority Control Task List, you may find it helpful to use the MMS Creation Date index in the Authorities Advanced Search. For example, using this search index, you can view a list of new authority records that have been loaded.
  • While reviewing the list, sometimes you may notice that the same record (MMS ID) may be identified with two different errors. This may be caused by the system checking the Community Zone authority records and also checking local authority records for a match.

Conflicts Between Local and LC Records

The following table describes what happens when a bib record matches headings (preferred or non-preferred) from both a local authority record and an LC record. In all cases, the local authority record is preferred.

Bib Heading

Local Authority

LC Authority

Bib heading is linked to:

Bib matches to:




Bib matches to:




Bib matches to:




Bib matches to:




In other words:

  • If a heading matches the preferred term in a local record and a non-preferred term in an LC record, the heading will be linked to the local record

  • If a heading matches the preferred term in an LC record, and the non-preferred term in a local record, the heading will be linked to the local record, and it will be flipped to the preferred term in the local record

  • If a heading matches non-preferred terms in a local and an LC record (i.e. local and LC have same 4XX but different 1XX), the heading will be linked to the local record and will be flipped to the preferred term in the local record

  • If a heading matches to the preferred term of a local record and the preferred term in an LC record, the bib heading will link to the local record

Additional Resources

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