SCISSHL and ScOT: Why use both?

Have you ever wondered why some SCIS records contain two similar or identical subject headings? SCIS cataloguers use two controlled vocabularies: the SCIS Subject Heading List (SCISSHL) and the Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT). You’ll notice that the codes ‘scisshl’ or ‘scot’ appear in parentheses after each heading, representing which vocabulary the heading came from. Subscribers who access records through SCISWeb have the option to have headings from both vocabularies in their downloaded records, or just their preferred one.

These two controlled vocabularies serve complementary functions. Simply put, ScOT terms are informed by curriculum language and structure, whereas the SCISSHL is informed by topics in the literature itself: its headings reflect the content of the SCIS database.

Seasons_SH_MARCviewThe benefit of using both is that if one person – likely, in this case, to be a teacher or school library professional – enters search terms inspired by the curriculum, and another person – such as a student – searches with no consideration of the curriculum, both will find relevant resources. Oftentimes there is an overlap between SCISSHL and ScOT terms that can describe resources (see image to the left); to maintain consistency, both terms are always used.


MyProfileAdvancedOptionsWhile our cataloguers include terms from both vocabularies, you have the option to select a preferred subject heading format.

Once you’ve logged into SCISWeb, you can select ‘My Profile’ from the navigation bar, select ‘Advanced options’, and then choose your preferred subject heading format (you can press the ‘Help me choose which format’ if further clarification is needed), and then press ‘SAVE’.


Please note that the instructions above only change your settings on SCISWeb, and will not affect the format of records imported directly into your library management system through Z39.50 (otherwise known as rapid cataloguing or z-cataloguing).

When using z39.50 to import records directly into your system, some library systems allow you to choose between SCISSHL or ScOT terms. Others extract the ScOT headings and put them in special fields, treating them as keywords rather than specialised subject headings. Still others import both sets of headings and do not give you a choice in the matter. If the source of the heading is not displayed (‘scisshl’ or ‘scot’) it may appear that you have duplicate headings in your record, whereas one heading is from ScOT and the other from SCISSHL.

If you would like to know more about the differences between the two, see ‘ScOT in SCIS – more of the same … or different?’ and ‘The relationship between SCIS Subject Headings and ScOT’.

Australia Day ’16

With Australia Day just around the corner, we have compiled a list of Australiana resources including non-fiction, fiction and picture books, as well as other useful teaching resources such as interactive websites and DVDs.

CC BY 2.0  James Cridland Day marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet, but it also presents us with the opportunity to reflect on our history, culture and people. This year, to commemorate Australia Day, we have included a variety of resources that look at these aspects of our country. It provides a small snippet from a wide array of resources that are available to be shared with students for Australia Day. For more resources, use the SCIS catalogue to browse by subject, using subject headings such as ‘Australia Day’, ‘Australian history’, ‘Australiana’, or ‘Australian stories’.

You can also check out our Australia Day blog post from last year for a list of resources that look at the clash between European settlers and the Aboriginal peoples.

What’s Australia Day All About? [Online video] (SCIS no 1748373)
A short video suitable for primary school students, What’s Australia Day All About looks at how people commemorate the national holiday, and different perspectives that are held about the day.  The video encourages interaction and reflection by concluding with a trivia question.

Aussie Clue Cracker [Website] (SCIS no 1748506)
Aussie Clue Cracker is an interactive online game encouraging students to learn more about unique Australian icons, symbols and events. Users are shown 12 images that contribute to our national culture, and are given 11 clues to guess the correct answer.

Australia Day : History [Website] (SCIS no 1748485)
This informative website developed by the Australia Day Council looks at the history of the national holiday, and how and why it has been both celebrated and challenged.

Our World : Bardi Jaawi : Life at Ardiyooloon by One Arm Point Remote Community School (SCIS no 1484264)
This vibrantly illustrated picture book, written by students of One Arm Point Remote Community School, is a great resource that invites the reader into their community, sharing the culture and traditions of the Bardi Jaawi people.

A Concise History of Australia by Stuart Macintyre (SCIS no 1741554)
This book provides a concise, accessible overview of Australian history from our early history to today, including our social, political and economic history.

True Blue? : On Being Australian edited by Peter Goldsworthy (SCIS no 1347615)
Suitable for senior school students, True Blue? exposes students to a range of perspectives on Australian identity, and will encourage readers to reflect on what it means to be Australian – or if there is a concrete definition at all.

Australians All : A History of Growing up, From the Ice Age to the Apology
by Nadia Wheatley, illustrations by Ken Searle (SCIS no 1731022)
Nadia Wheatley interweaves over 70 real-life stories into the book, mixing her own narrative with biographies and first-hand accounts from various Australians in time, including well-known individuals such as Eddie Mabo.

Samson and Delilah [DVD] by Warwick Thornton (SCIS no 1475514)
Directed by Indigenous filmmaker Warwick Thornton, Samson and Delilah looks at the lives of two teenagers growing up in a remote community in central Australia, and the struggles as they leave their community and head to Alice Springs.

Australian Backyard Explorer by Peter Macinnis (SCIS no 1420539)
Australian Backyard Explorer, winner of the 2010 Children’s Book Council of Australia Children’s Book of the Year Award, tells the remarkable stories of individuals who explored the vast Australian landscape in the first 120 years of European settlement.

Australian Story : An Illustrated Timeline by Tania McCartney (SCIS no 1547510)
Australian Story places key moments in Australian history on a timeline, from the formation of our country and its flora and fauna to modern life in Australia. Filled with illustrations and images taken from the National Library of Australia’s digital collection, this is a striking visual account of Australian history.

The Unlikely Story of Bennelong and Phillip by Michael Sedunary (SCIS no 1698767)
This book tells the story of the friendship between Captain Arthur Phillip who led the First Fleet, and Bennelong, an Aboriginal man, despite coming from two very different worlds.

Why I Love Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft (SCIS no 1712314)
Bronwyn Bancroft visually celebrates the vast and diverse Australian landscape – both natural and man-made, expressing her deep feelings for the country.

Let us know your favourite books and resources to share with students for Australia Day – or books you love to read yourself.

Image: James Cridland (CC BY 2.0)

Enhanced content in SCIS catalogue

The SCIS Catalogue is a valuable starting point for school staff looking to identify books, digital resources and websites to support the curriculum, and subscribers are encouraged to use it as a selection aid for locating resources that are required for a particular purpose in a school. While providing catalogue records is core business, SCIS recognises the value of enhancing the catalogue record where possible with any information that may help school staff discover and review resources of interest.

In July 2011 SCIS added enhanced content services from Syndetics Solutions and LibraryThing for Libraries to the SCIS Catalogue, via a subscription with Thorpe-Bowker. The bibliographic records in SCIS OPAC are enhanced to display additional detail about resources, including plot summaries, author notes, awards and reviews. This content is delivered to SCIS by linked data based on ISBN.

Consider the subject headings and notes if using SCIS Catalogue as a selection tool
Figure 1: If using SCIS Catalogue as a selection tool, consider using the Subject Headings and notes

The SCIS Catalogue bibliographic record display provides a link to Google Books. The Google books link/s (if any) will appear at the bottom of the display.
There are three possible links:

  • Entire book is viewable
  • A portion of the book is viewable
  • “About This Book” information is available.

These links will enrich search results with lists of relevant books, journal articles, web page citations and links to related works and full text when available.

Google Books link in SCIS Catalogue record
Figure 2: Google Books link in SCIS Catalogue record


Social bookmarks links in SCIS Catalogue
Individual records from SCIS Catalogue can be saved directly to selected social media services as bookmarks. The persistent website address (URL) for these records will be in the format where the bibID is the SCIS number for that record.
Note that you will need a subscription to the social bookmarking service you wish to use, and anyone accessing these SCIS records from your bookmarking service will need to be a SCIS subscriber.
The social bookmarking services currently supported include,,, and

Social bookmarks links in SCIS Catalogue full record screen
Figure 3. Social bookmarks links in SCIS Catalogue full record screen


Images linked to Google Books are not available for download from SCIS. The book cover image from Thorpe Bowker located within the catalogue data (if available) can be downloaded into your library management system from our orders page or via your system’s z39.50 connection. Subscriber schools may also display the images on the school website including blogs, wikis, online newsletters and the school intranet.

Syndetics content in SCIS Catalogue
Through the subscription service Syndetics, SCIS offers additional descriptive and evaluative information where available including:

  • summaries and annotations
  • fiction and biography profiles
  • summaries and annotations
  • fiction and biography profiles
  • author notes
  • awards
  • books in a series

Syndetics reviews
Syndetics delivers edited reviews from authoritative reviewing sources including:

  • Bookseller & Publisher reviews
  • New York Times reviews
  • School Library Journal reviews
  • Publishers Weekly reviews
  • The Horn Book reviews
  • Kirkus reviews

Unmatched SCIS orders

Unmatched orders

Can’t find your resource on SCIS?

The ISBN, ISSN, ISMN and SCIS numbers you tried to order were not found on the SCIS database?

You can get your unmatched orders checked.

Go to My Profile and choose Advanced options.

My Profile Advanced Tab showing unmatched orders option
My Profile Advanced Tab showing unmatched orders option

If you receive the unmatched orders message in SCISWeb there are two things you should do today to get the most out of your SCIS subscription.

Check that:

  1. you have an up-to-date email address in your SCIS Profile, and
  2. you are receiving emails when SCIS catalogues a resource you have ordered that was previously unmatched.

These two simple steps mean you can either

  1. put an unmatched resource back on your cataloguing shelf and wait for an email telling you when a catalogue record is available, or
  2. create a skeleton record for the record if your library system allows this, and overlay the full SCIS record when you receive the email from SCIS.
Add your email address to My Profile

Note that if you use a Z39.50 system you will need to re-order any unmatched ISBNs in the SCISWeb Create Orders interface to activate this email alert.


This is a handy feature of SCIS, but remember that SOMEONE has to send the resource to SCIS for it to be catalogued. Our cataloguing services staff would love to receive your unmatched resources.