May 26, 2022

New Conference Paper: Using Authorities to Improve Subject Searches

The following paper was presented on Friday (August 17h) at the “Beyond Libraries-Subject Metadata in the Digital Environment and Semantic Web”  IFLA post-conference in Tallinn, Estonia.



OCLC Research

Edward T. O’Neill
OCLC Research

Rick Bennett
OCLC Research

Kerre Kammerer
OCLC Research


Beyond Libraries-Subject Metadata in the Digital Environment and Semantic Web
Post-Conference Web Site


Authority files have played an important role in improving the quality of indexing and subject cataloging.  Although authorities can significantly improve search by increasing the number of access points, they are rarely an integral part of the information retrieval process, particularly end-users searches.  A retrieval prototype, searchFAST, was developed to test the feasibility of using an authority file as an index to bibliographic records.  searchFAST uses FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology) as an index to OCLC’s bibliographic database.  The searchFAST methodology complements, rather than replaces, existing access.  The bibliographic file is searched indirectly; first the authority file is searched to identify appropriate subject headings, then the headings are used to retrieve the matching bibliographic records. The prototype demonstrates the effectiveness and practicality of using an authority file as an index.  Searching the authority file leverages authority control work by increasing the number of access points while supporting a simple interface designed for end-users.

Direct to Full Text Paper (MS Word)

See Also:  Learn More About FAST (via OCLC Research)

See Also: Demo the searchFAST Database

See Also: mapFAST
Demo involving Google Maps
See Also: FAST Converter
See Also: FAST Linked Data
About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.