May 24, 2022

New Report From OCLC Research: FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology) Users: Summary and Case Studies

Released this afternoon by OCLC Research.


OCLC Research: FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology) Users: Summary and Case Studies


Jeffrey Mixter
OCLC Research

Eric R. Childress
OCLC Research

From the Introduction

Since 2002 eighteen institutions in six countries have expressed interest in learning more about FAST and how it could be implemented in cataloging workflows.

Currently OCLC is aware of nine agencies that have actually adopted or support FAST for resource description. This study, the first systematic census of FAST users undertaken by OCLC, was conducted, in part, to address these inquiries.

Its purpose was to examine:

  • how FAST is being utilized;
  • why FAST was chosen as the cataloging vocabulary;
  • what benefits FAST provides; and
  • what can be done to enhance the value of FAST.

Interview requests were sent to all parties that had previously contacted OCLC about FAST. Of the eighteen organizations contacted, 16 agreed to provide information about their decision whether to use FAST (9 adopters, 7 non-adopters).

This document presents:

  • a brief overview of FAST;
  • a brief analysis of common characteristics of parties that have either chosen to adopt
  • FAST or chosen against using FAST;
  • suggested improvements for FAST vocabulary and services;
  • tables summarizing FAST adopters and non-adopters; and fourteen individual “case studies” presented as edited write-ups of interviews.

Key Findings

  • Most cited FAST attributes: ease of use, simple syntax, and suitability for non-cataloger application
  • Top three FAST facets used (of eight facets total): Topic, Geographic Names, Form/Genre
  • [Our emphasis] Publishing FAST as linked data under an open license has favorably advanced its adoption

Direct to Full Text Report (51 pages; PDF)

Learn More About FAST (via OCLC Research Project Page)

OCLC Research–FAST Projects Online

  • assignFAST
    “Assign FAST Subject Headings in a Single Step”
  • mapFAST
    “mapFAST is a Google Maps mashup prototype designed to provide map based access to bibliographic records using FAST geographic and event authorities. Also available in Mobile versions.”
  • FAST Converter
    “The FAST Converter is a Web interface for the conversion of LCSH headings to FAST headings.”
  • FAST Linked Data
    “FAST as a Linked Data service to interact with the Semantic Web.”
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.