Library of Congress authority records are now available online on the Library's Web site at http://authorities.loc.gov. Known as Library of Congress Authorities, the free online service allows users to search, display and download authority records in the MARC 21 format for use in local library systems.
An authority record is a tool used by librarians to establish forms of names (for persons, places, meetings and organizations), titles and subjects used on bibliographic records. Authority records enable librarians to provide uniform access to materials in library catalogs and to provide clear identification of authors and subject headings. Authority records also provide cross references to direct users to the headings used in library catalogs.
The Library of Congress database contains more than 5.5 million authority records. Through the Library of Congress Authorities service, users have access to these authority records, including 3.8 million personal, 900,000 corporate, 120,000 meeting, 90,000 geographic name authority records; 265,000 subject authority records; 350,000 series and uniform title authority records; and 340,000 name/title authority records.
The Library is currently working with Endeavor Information Systems to provide access via Z39.50 (an international standard for information retrieval) and other features such as the full MARC 21 character set for display and download of authority data and access to the approximately 2,300 subject subdivision records in the Library of Congress Subject Headings.
This new service was made available on a trial basis on July 1. During the trial period, the Library sought feedback from users worldwide to assist in evaluating the service. User response was overwhelmingly positive. Based on their input, the Library has made improvements to Library of Congress Authorities and decided to offer this free service on a permanent basis. The Library welcomes comments from users, which should be sent via e-mail to email@example.com.
A PowerPoint presentation on Library of Congress Authorities is available at www.loc.gov/ils/ala02arv.ppt.