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Catalog Authority

Authority work is very important in cataloging. It is what makes it possible for you to search the catalog for an author's works and to be sure that you find everything we have by that author. We do this by making sure that every time we catalog a book by that author we use the same form of name for the author. In order to be sure that we don't use the same name for two authors, we add things like birth and death dates, middle names and initials, and titles such as Sir and Lady to the name to differentiate between two authors with the same name.

What about authors who write under pseudonyms, or more than one name? In such cases you may have to search more than once for works by the author. A famous example of this is Charles Dodgsen, also known as Lewis Carroll. If you were interested in reading some of his math treatises, you would want to search under the name Dodgsen. However, if you wanted to read about Alice's adventures, you would want to search under the name Carroll. Whichever name you searched under, a cross-reference telling you to also search under the other name would appear. If you search for a work by an author who uses a pseudonym rather than his or her real name, a reference telling you what name you should search under to find works by that author will appear. A similar structure is used for subject headings.

Obviously, authority work is very important in a well-ordered catalog. Here at Auburn we are proud to be a part of the NACO (Names Authority Co-Operative Program) program through which our catalogers contribute name authority records to a national catalog.

Library assistants Harriet Cosby and Rita Norgard assist librarian Helen Goldman in this unit. Helen also leads the Catalog Maintenance Unit.