The dreaded case of duplicate ISBNs

A few weeks ago, the SCIS team were at a ‘Making the most of SCIS’ workshop and our conversation turned, as it often does, to ISBNs. If you love discussing ISBNs as much as we do, here – republished in full – is one of our most popular blog posts. Enjoy!

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The dreaded case of duplicate ISBNs

Doreen Sullivan
SCIS Cataloguing team leader

Have you ever had this experience? You search for or download the record for an ISBN and a completely different title is returned. Huh? How could SCIS have gotten it so wrong?

In most cases, this is not a mistake. The fact is, sometimes publishers print the same ISBN on more than one of their publications. Although ISBNs are meant to be unique to each title edition, it is surprisingly common for publishers to give the same ISBN to different books.

These are known as ‘duplicate ISBNs’ or ‘ISBN duplicates’, and they are frustrating for all concerned. It means that the same ISBN could show in two or more SCIS records.

When a SCIS cataloguer creates a record with a known duplicate ISBN, they will include a note like this: ‘Duplicate ISBN. Linked to SCIS record no. 911499’. But if you’re simply downloading a record, chances are you won’t see the note field.

You can set your profile to ‘Prompt me to choose from a list’ when ISBN duplicates appear. If you have this setting enabled and we’ve catalogued both items — the same ISBN but two different titles — the SCIS system will inform you of the duplication when you go to download the record directly from SCIS. Then you can select the title you need.

If you need more information to make your choice, we recommend performing an ISBN search on the SCIS catalogue, which will provide the SCIS number for each record. You can then download the record using the relevant SCIS number.

And if SCIS hasn’t catalogued two records — you can only see one title and it’s not the one you want — please contact us at help@scisdata.com so we can look into the issue for you.

First published September 28, 2017

To change your ISBN duplicate settings in your SCIS profile, please follow the prompts in the article, My Quick Scan result does not match the item ordered.

For more information on downloading SCIS records, please see our brief video, Downloading records in SCIS.

Case study: Ruth Maloney, Tonbridge Grammar School, UK

‘I wouldn’t have such a high functioning system if I didn’t have SCIS, because it’s like having an assistant librarian whose job is just to catalogue, and who does that job really well. It’s an essential part of the library catalogue for me.’

School: Tonbridge Grammar School
Type: International Baccalaureate school for girls (11–18) and boys (16–18)
Enrolment: 1,200
Cataloguing subscription: SCIS Data + SCIS Authority Files
Library management system: Accessit
Size of collection: 8,000

Tonbridge Grammar School is a high-achieving International Baccalaureate school in Kent, United Kingdom. The school librarian, Ruth Maloney, works part-time in the library, and is responsible for everything from purchasing and accessioning books, to creating library displays and teaching information literacy. Ruth is grateful that her role at Tonbridge Grammar School is varied. ‘It’s different every day’, she says, ‘and I can make a difference every day’.

With Tonbridge Grammar School’s focus on enhancing students’ information literacy and research skills, the library is well positioned to develop its students into efficient researchers and information-literate individuals. This focus is supported by their subscription to SCIS Data through the provision of high-quality, consistent and reliable catalogue records.

As the only librarian in a large school, Ruth relies on SCIS Data to ensure speedy, reliable and consistent catalogue records.

Continue reading Case study: Ruth Maloney, Tonbridge Grammar School, UK

SCIS Publisher Survey

 

Thank you to everyone who recently completed our SCIS Publisher Survey. We received an incredibly impressive 1,162 responses – so we now have plenty of rich data to analyse, and a lovely list of publishing house suggestions.

Below are some key themes that emerged from the results.

The SCIS hit rate

Your feedback (and our hit rate) indicates we are doing well with our coverage of ‘major’ publishing houses. Our team will continue to focus on improving our hit rate for the smaller ones. We had plenty of comments about including more American and religious texts, though pleasingly many respondents observed that the hit rate had markedly improved in the last two years. In fact, 81% of respondents estimated your hit rate to be between 81–100%. (Yay!)

When a SCIS record is missing

We asked respondents, ‘If you purchase books from a publisher and there are no matching SCIS records, what do you do next?’ Forty-seven per cent of users catalogue the titles yourself (some referring to a ‘similar’ SCIS record or other library sources to help guide you), and 32 per cent put the books aside and check a week or two later to see if SCIS records become available.

While there are few surprises in these results, interestingly, only three out of 1,162 respondents contact their local publisher/bookseller or sales rep if SCIS records are not available for their recently purchased books. And only 33 of you contact SCIS directly to let us know if a publisher’s titles are missing.

As a cataloguing community, we rely on feedback to keep our hit rate high. So if you ever have an opportunity to mention SCIS to your local bookseller, or let us know directly, everyone will benefit.

Please take a moment to look at the amazing publishers who already support us.

Where to go for help

Not everyone is aware that we have online help articles that you can find by clicking the help icon on the SCIS website.  We also have a friendly customer service team, Sarah and Helen, who can help you troubleshoot issues and streamline downloading.

We also have cataloguers (Renate and the team) across Australia and New Zealand on hand for cataloguing queries.

Please check out our website, or email help@scisdata.com with any queries you have.

Next steps for SCIS

  1. We have a lovely list of new publishing houses to contact.
  2. Any feedback about catalogue records has been passed to our quality assurance manager.
  3. We will continue to work with publishers, distributors and library staff to keep our hit rate as high as possible for as many people as possible.

And below is one of our favourite quotes from the survey feedback. It’s all anonymous so we don’t know who you are, but you made our day.

‘I love SCIS. This is the best thing that happened to my cataloguing life.’

Thank you, and happy cataloguing!

Enhance your library collection with digital content

Most subscribers use SCIS Data to download records for books and other physical items that they would like to make available in their library catalogue.

But, with over 100,000 records available for websites, apps, ebooks, audiobooks, and digital videos, it is also the perfect tool to help build your digital collection.

This blog post looks at the benefits of including digital content in your library catalogue, and how SCIS supports this.

Continue reading Enhance your library collection with digital content