Subject Authority Requirements


The documentation and management of information about a named iconographical, literary, mythological, or religious character, animal, theme, or story, or a named historical or fictional event. It may also contain information about a named structure, particularly if the structure is not cataloged separately as an work in its own right. (CDWA)


  • Allow users to compile authorized terms or headings used by a single organization or consortium in cataloging, indexing, or documentation (CDWA)
  • Allow for the management of synonyms and related terms, including non-hierarchical "associative relationships" among authorities
  • Allow users to create hierarchies within authority records
  • Enable term control in intake records, object records, and other authorities
  • The authority should be compliant with ISO and NISO standards for thesauri (CDWA)

Standards, Guidelines + Use Cases


Standard general sources include the following, arranged in order of preference:

Iconographic Themes

  • Garnier, François. Thesaurus iconographique : système descriptif des représentations. Paris: Léopard d'or, 1984.
  • ICONCLASS (most useful for Western religious and mythological subjects)
  • Narkiss, Bezalel, et al. Index of Jewish Art: Iconographical Index of Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts. Jerusalem and Paris: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities: Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes, 1976-1988.
  • Roberts, Helene E. ed. Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. 2 vols. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998
  • Stutley, Margaret. Illustrated Dictionary of Hindu Iconography. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985.

Fictional Characters

  • Magill, Frank N. Cyclopedia of Literary Characters. Revised Ed. Edited by A.J. Sobczak. Pasadena, California: Salem Press, 1990-1998.
  • Seymour-Smith, Martin. Dent Dictionary of Fictional Characters. London: Orion Publishing Co., 1991.


  • Grun, Bernard. Timetables of History: Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. 3rd ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.
  • Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. 2nd ed. Thompson, Sue Ellen and Helene Henderson, compilers. Detroit, Michigan: Omnigraphics, 1997.
  • Kohn, George Childs. Dictionary of Wars. Revised ed. New York: Facts on File, 2000.
  • Library of Congress Subject Headings. Library of Congress Authorities. online Washington, DC: Library of Congress.
  • Mellersh, H.E. L. and Neville Williams. Chronology of World History. 4 vols. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 1999.

Names of Buildings

  • America Preserved: Checklist of Historic Buildings, Structures, and Sites. 60th ed. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service, 1995.
  • Avery Library. Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals at Columbia University. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co.; Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Trust, 1994-
  • Dictionary of Art. 34 vols. Jane Turner, ed. New York: Grove, 1996, or by subscription at
  • Fletcher, Sir Banister. History of Architecture. 18th ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975.
  • Library of Congress Subject Headings. Library of Congress Authorities. online Washington, DC: Library of Congress.
  • Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects. Adolf K. Placzek, ed. New York: Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan, 1982.

Associated Wireframes

Associated Services


Subject Authority Schema

Concept Authority Schema

Unless otherwise noted, definition and requirements from:
Spectrum Version 3.1
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