Template:Cite linked authority file

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The purpose of this template is to provide a standardised citation for information (e.g., date of birth) sourced from Library of Congress (LoC) Authorities data files, which can conveniently be accessed through OCLC-WorldCat's Identities database.

The template will generate the citation and an external link to the corresponding Linked Authority File (LAF) in the WorldCat Identities database from where the information was sourced.


All field names must be lowercase.

{{cite linked authority file |id= |text= |accessdate= }}


The available fields are:

  • id: required parameter. This is the unique identifier of the LAF record (e.g.: |id=n83-134641 )
  • text: optional parameter. If specified, used for free text to describe the kind of information that has been sourced (e.g.: |text=Date and other names ). If not specified, the text defaults to "Date" (probably the most common usage).
  • accessdate: optional parameter. Full date when item was accessed, in ISO 8601 YYYY-MM-DD format, for example accessdate = 2017-11-21. Must not be wikilinked.

Purpose / How-to[edit]

The Library of Congress (LOC) Authorities is a database consisting of individual authority records, i.e. identifying records for the entities (such as authors) associated within the LOC cataloging system of the library's more than 12 million works. To quote from the LOC website, an authority record is:

...a tool used by librarians to establish forms of names (for persons, places, meetings, and organizations), titles, and subjects used on bibliographic records. Authority records enable librarians to provide uniform access to materials in library catalogs and to provide clear identification of authors and subject headings.[1]

These records, available online free-of-charge and typically in MARC 21 format, contain a variety of identifying and annotative remarks on these entities —such as alternative or full names of people and organisations, date or year of birth of authors of books or subjects of books, cross-referencing of affiliated entities, and so on.

The information contained in these records can frequently be a useful source for base information, such as exact date of birth or variant names and titles, that may be difficult to verify or obtain from other generally available sources. It can also be a useful resource for distinguishing between similarly named (but distinct) individuals, or cross-referencing individuals whose names are variably spelled/written.

While the LOC Authorities database can be accessed and searched directly through its website (http://authorities.loc.gov/), the interface is reasonably complex and the search result URLs often resolve to something quite lengthy.

An easier/more intuitive interface to the LOC authorities data is provided by OCLC-WorldCat, in their WorldCat Identities database. This is an open-access online database and cataloging index compiled from the 10,000+ member libraries worldwide, interlinked with the Library of Congress (and other, e.g. Deutsche Bibliothek) major cataloging systems.

The WorldCat Identities database collates a range of information on the "identities" (authors, organisations, subjects, etc.) associated with publications and other materials held in (many of) the world's libraries. An Identity record will very often (but not always) have one or more Linked Authority Files (LAF) associated with it, which is essentially drawn from the LOC Authorities record associated with that identity/entity/author.


One common usage of Linked Authority Files would be to ascertain birth date (year, if not the exact date) information for some individual author, or subject of some published work. Finding alternative, former or variant names is another possibility. While it may readily be possible to independently obtain this information from some other source, there are many cases where this info may be hard to come by, and the LAF will be the easiest place to look and confirm.

Just about any person or institution who has ever written or been associated with a book or other published material will have an Identities record; and a large majority of these will also have a LAF record. The LAF record quite often will contain some identifying or annotated information concerning the individual, such as date of birth (or death) data. Not all records by any means have this, but a lot do.

Note, there is a systemic bias of sorts in favour of English-language published identities, and publications in Latin orthographical scripts, tending all the more so for the LAF records.

Steps to accomplish this:

  1. Go to the Worldcat Identities Frontpage: https://www.worldcat.org/identities/
  2. Enter the name (format: Lastname, Firstname ) of the individual in the searchbox (e.g. Le Guin, Ursula)
  3. Select (click on) the desired entry from the list of identities that will be generated- usually will be the topmost-entry. Hint: sometimes there'll be a couple of entries for the identity, always select (if available) an entry marked with the "A Personal Identity from a controlled vocabulary" icon (for individuals) or "A Corporate Identity from a controlled vocabulary" icon (for organisations), as these will have an associated LAF record. (e.g., select Le Guin, Ursula K. 1929- (Authors, American--20th century) in this example)
  4. This brings up the Identities file. Scroll down to the "Useful Links" section. Typically, you will see at least a "Library of Congress Authority File (English)" link. If there isn't one, then you're out of luck in this particular instance.
  5. Clicking on the link brings up the LAF record page, which displays the various (and variable) fields of the Authorities record, in a MARC format. The date information, if present, will normally appear in one of the fields numbered 670, though may appear also in other fields. If there's no date information present, then again you're out of luck; but generally there will be some date/alternative name/other info. (e.g., in the example case, the last 670 field reads aContemporary authors. New revision series:|bv. 74 (Le Guin, Ursula K(roeber); b. Oct. 21, 1929, Berkeley, CA; writer). Hence, DOB is found to be "Oct. 21, 1929".)
  6. To use this as a cited source for the DOB, take the "Identifier" number shown (in this example, n78-95474) and apply it to the template, thus:
'''Ursula Kroeber Le Guin''' (born October 21, 1929)<ref>{{cite linked authority file|id=n78-95474}}</ref> is an American writer...
Which will produce:
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (born October 21, 1929)[1] is an American writer...
<main body of article>

    As mentioned, LAF records may also contain other information that could be usefully added or cited.

    BLP reminder[edit]

    When sourcing information regarding living persons, please be mindful of the privacy sections in the WP:BLP policy. It may be appropriate, for example, to omit the full date of birth of a living person in an article, even if the LOC Authorities file contains this information; and instead use just the year of birth. The addition of information into articles sourced via this method should comply generally with all other relevant policies, just as for any other sourcing method.

    See also[edit]

    • {{Worldcat id}} — creates and formats an external link to the corresponding entry at WorldCat Identities, which lists the works by or about the person held across libraries worldwide
    Synonyms / redirects for this template