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Using preferred terms and local authorities (preferred subject terms)

Use Case

As a user, I have the expectation that subject headings in a library’s search system will be current and not use outdated language (e.g. illegal alien, manic-depressive illness).


Modify metadata configuration to manage subject headings locally, create local subject headings for LCSH and FAST, and allow the “Authorities Preferred Term Correction” (PTC) job to update records.


Configuration time: 10 min
Configuration difficulty: Low
Changes Live in Primo New UI: usually 24 hours (post-PTC job)

System Specs
• Alma


Go to Alma>Configuration>Resources>Cataloging>Metadata Configuration
Under Authority Vocabularies, click on the toggle for FAST and Library of Congress Subject Headings to “Manage Locally.”

  • In Alma go to Resources>Cataloging>Open Metadata Editor
  • Go to File>New>FAST

For this example, we’ll use Noncitizens (our preferred term) to replace Illegal Aliens. Fill in the two fields below for 150 and 450

150 $$a Noncitizens
450 $$a Illegal aliens

Save your changes. Repeat the above step for Library of Congress Subject Headings (File>New>Library of Congress Subject Headings). You won’t see changes until around 24 hours after the Authorities – Preferred Term Correction job has run. You can confirm if your subject headings were replaced by finding this job and clicking on …> Report

Note: You may still see the old subject headings in SEARS subject headings. This vocabulary is not controlled or linked by Alma, so it can’t be overwritten with this method.

(Special thanks to Fabiana Tonding at the ExL Helpdesk)

2 Replies to “Using preferred terms and local authorities (preferred subject terms)”

  1. Does this apply to PrimoVE?
    If no, disregard.
    If yes, do we know how it affect searches generated by the user clicking the displayed term?
    Does the hyperlink create a search for the displayed term or for the metadata term?
    Does the resulting search include include records that have the displayed term and also records that have the metadata term? Or does it only search for the displayed term?

    MARC records do not typically have their subject headings updated (Which I have feelings about, but that’s not important here).
    Searches search the metadata.

    If the search only includes records that have the displayed term in the metadata, not the records with the non-preferred term that we’ve replaced in the display, then we’ve denied our users the ability to discover scores of related records. I’d love to use this, but I’m hesitant if it breaks up the search results.

  2. Hi Jessica,
    I don’t know. We are not on VE yet. I think it works the way you described (in a good desirable way).

    Example: all of the instances of “illegal aliens” in FAST and in SEARS are replaced by “noncitizens” so if you click on “noncitizens” (the hyperlinked subject term in the record) it return up results for all of the instances of “illegal aliens” because it has been replaced by “noncitizens.”

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