Two books but one ISBN?

Here at SCIS one of the most common enquiries we receive is from school library staff who have scanned an ISBN into SCIS Orders, only to get the SCIS record for a completely different book show up in their results file.

The reason this occurs is usually pretty simple, and it’s not our fault.  Sometimes publishers print the same ISBN on more than one of their publications.

ISBNs are supposed to be unique to one edition of a particular title, but irritatingly, it’s actually quite common for publishers to accidently give the same ISBN to two different books.

If your browser and school settings allow pop-ups, you can alter your SCIS profile to prompt you to choose from a pop-up menu when there is more than one record on the SCIS database with the ISBN you’ve just scanned.

Go into your SCIS profile at (NB. you will need to be logged in to SCISWeb first).  Go to Basic preferences, and under ISBN duplicates select the option ‘Prompt me to choose from a list’.

Of course, this will only work if both titles with the duplicate ISBN have been catalogued onto SCIS, but provided your school hasn’t blocked pop-ups, it can save a certain amount of confusion.

If your school has blocked pop-ups (and we know there are a few schools with this problem) then your next best option is to try a keyword search in SCIS OPAC for the ISBN of the book you want a record for (again, you will need to be logged into SCISWeb).  If there are 2 books with that ISBN in the database, both will be returned, and you can then copy the SCIS number for the record you want into the SCIS Orders box and then download the record normally.

If you still can’t find the record you want, we may not have created a SCIS record for that book yet, in which case you should contact us to see if we can arrange to have that record added to the database.

For more information about ISBNs, see our earlier blog post.

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SCIS (Schools Catalogue Information Service) was created with the aim of providing schools with access to a database of consistent catalogue records created according to agreed national standards, in order to reduce the cost and duplication of effort of cataloguing resources in schools. Since its inception, SCIS has been responsible for improving the quality and consistency of cataloguing materials for schools.

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