The making of an authority record

Published 4/13/2021 4:53 PM CT

CMC: Cataloging Maintenance Center - Statewide Cataloging SupportThe making of an authority record
What a NAR is and how you can request a new one


One of the many tasks performed by the Cataloging Maintenance Center (CMC) is the contribution of Name Authority Records (NAR) to the Library of Congress. NARs are records which give the authoritative form (the form selected for a heading) of a personal name, corporate name, family name, or place name. Authority records ensure consistency is created for each authorized heading (authorized access point) for a proper name, etc.

In the authority record, the source or sources are cited that were used to establish the authorized access point. Related access points, if necessary, are also included in the record. Since each authority record must be unique, it is often necessary to use distinguishing elements like date of birth, date of death, fuller form of their name, etc. If this information cannot be determined from the source document or reference sources, and no other information can be found to break the conflict, a name can be differentiated by using occupation, place of birth, etc.

The Cataloging Maintenance Center receives suggestions for creating NARs from member libraries as well as our own cataloging. If you would like the CMC to establish a NAR, please send an email to with as much information as you have on the personal name, corporate name, etc.

Example of a recent addition to the Library of Congress authority file:

Example of a record that differentiates one Deborah Blake from another Deborah Blake using occupation:

Example of a place authority record:


CMC Cataloging Maintenance Center - Statewide Cataloging Support

Funding for the Cataloging Maintenance Center is provided through the Illinois State Library and the Secretary of State and administered by Illinois Heartland Library System. The CMC provides statewide cataloging support for Illinois libraries, including free original and copy cataloging of eligible special collections, consultation on metadata projects, database cleanup for LLSAPs, cataloging training, and more. Learn more at