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.

SCISWeb

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’.

Z39.50

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’.

Downloading SCIS Authority Files

SCIS catalogue records contain SCIS’s authorized name and subject headings. However, on their own, records will not display the See and See Also references that provide the optimal search experience for your students and staff. SCIS Authority Files provide these references, as well as providing all authorized forms of names and subjects used as access points in SCIS catalogue records. Installing them will enable your library management system to automatically create cross references, which will be visible in your library catalogue.

Schools can subscribe to SCIS Authority Files for only $90 per year, which includes both Name and Subject authorities. SCIS release a new version of the Authority Files twice a year, usually in March and August.

In this post we describe the benefits of installing SCIS Authority Files and provide advice on selecting and installing them, using two systems to demonstrate: Access-It and Softlink’s Oliver. You can find more information about SCIS Authority Files on the authority files help page. You can also watch our new Authority Files video…

SCIS Authority Files from SCIS on Vimeo.

 

SCIS Name Authorities

SCIS Name Authorities specify the authorized name of authors, illustrators, and other creators, be they corporate (eg “Primary English Teaching Association (Australia)”) or individual. This includes See references for non-authorized names. For example, if SCIS Name Authorities are installed and one of your staff search for “PETAA”, they will be directed to all works by “Primary English Teaching Association (Australia)”. Without Name Authorities, they may get no results.

Not all systems support name authorities, so check with your vendor before installing them.

SCIS Subject Authorities

If a user searches on the term “Hurricanes” without a See reference to direct them to the authorized SCIS subject heading, “Cyclones”, they may believe that the library does not contain any resources about hurricanes. See Also references exist between related terms and are important for assisting the user to find resources on similar subjects, such as directing users from “Cyclones” to the related topic “Tornadoes”.

SCIS Subject Authority files include authorized names as subjects. That is, whilst SCIS Name Authorities specify the name “Carroll, Lewis” as an author of a work, SCIS Subject Authorities specify “Carroll, Lewis” as a subject for when a work is about Lewis Carroll.

Selecting Authority Files – Full versus Reference Only

On the SCIS Authority Files page, schools need to choose which files they require: the SCIS Full Authority Files or the SCIS Reference Only Authority Files.

The Full Authority files contain all authorized SCIS headings, including those without See and See Also references, such as “Science fiction films – History and criticism”. This may be useful for local cataloguing of resources not catalogued by SCIS, such as vertical file materials. Use the full list of authorized headings in your library system to ensure consistency with headings used in SCIS records.

If most of your catalogue records are sourced from SCIS and you do little or no original cataloguing, you may decide you only need the significantly smaller SCIS Reference Only Authority Files. These contain only those headings that have See and/or See Also references. We recommend that all schools install at least the Reference Only Subject Authority Files.

SCIS Authority File download options
Download options on the SCIS Authority File page

Downloading SCIS Authority Files

Twice a year, when SCIS release new versions of the Authority Files, go to the SCIS Authority Files page, select the correct files for you, and download them.

The next step is to import them into your library management system. Read your system’s manual carefully for the settings to choose when importing the SCIS subject authority files.

Imports should be regarded as an overnight housekeeping task as the download may take several hours.

Access-It authority import
Steps for importing authority files in Access-It

 

In current generation systems, many of the steps will be similar.

  • In Oliver, go to Management > Import and select the MARC radio button. It is crucial to select “MARC-21 Authority” in the “MARC format” field is crucial.
  • In Access-It, click Cataloguing > Imports > Import MARC Authorities.

    Oliver authority file import
    Options for uploading authority files in Oliver

Your system may require you to make some or all of the following decisions:

  • Choose how to deal with existing, duplicate authority records: Unless you want to retain any Subject Authorities you have created, it is important to replace the existing subject authorities with the new SCIS authorities. In Oliver, select “Replace existing resources”.
  • Specify which authorities you are loading: In Oliver it is important to select “Load subjects” otherwise the subject authorities won’t be loaded. If you are importing Name Authorities, do not select “Load Authors into Subject Authority File” because SCIS Subject Authority files already contain author names as subjects.
  • Specify file encoding: MARC authorities will be encoded in UTF-8.  Select this in Oliver, and leave Access-It as “auto-detect”.
Access-It authority file options
Authority file options in Access-IT

SCIS Asks 2013: The future of vocabularies

Education Services Australia manages multiple vocabularies including SCIS Subject Headings List and ScOT. At the SCIS consultation SCIS Asks, Ben Chadwick, ESA Metadata analyst outlined how vocabularies assist search.

     Australian Education Vocabularies >      Schools Online Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT)

Australian Education Vocabularies >
Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT)
  • Search expansion and faceting
  • Navigation and browsing
  • Collections Redirects (“See”)
  • Related topics (“See also”)
  • Mapping between repositories

ScOT as Linked Open Data

Ben outlined how ScOT  is published as open linked data and can be linked to other unique identifiers, inside and outside the vocabulary. It is available for consumption on the open web and is expressed in a standard, machine-readable format (RDF).

ScOT linking curriculum to resources

To date ScOT has been used to tag  20,000 resources  in Scootle  and 350,000 resources  in SCIS MARC records.  The Softlink survey 2013 showed that schools want curriculum alignment.  Aligning existing resources to the Australian Curriculum is one of three top priorities of school library staff. Future decisions  for SCIS around curriculum alignment  include

  • dealing with pre-2006 records without ScOT terms,
  • non-subject vocabularies,
  • increased records for digital resources,
  • retrospective updates of schools’ SCIS records
  • viability of Linked Open Data authorities as a new model for authority files.

Discussion points

Many have indicated that they would love to be able to search by curriculum in order to find related resources and that this would be a huge time saver. Suggestions included looking at the 658 MARC field to introduce a curriculum element.

It was noted that there was demand for automated  updating of bibliographic records. This would require a new process to ensure that library management systems can handle requests.   It was agreed that the ability to refresh bibliographic and authority records is an important one and further discussion is needed about whether models of linked data could address this problem.

SCIS asks: ScOT and subject access

In the subject access session of the SCIS consultation on 4 December 2012, Les Kneebone Project Manager of the Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) presented an exciting overview of recent developments in the ScOT thesaurus. Key features that position ScOT for the future include:

  • its ongoing development with input from cataloguers, curriculum developers, subject matter experts and users
  • its use to describe the machine-readable Australian Curriculum
  • its linked data API facilitating automatic semantic relationships
  • its translation into languages including Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Māori
  • its use to describe a wide range of resources through the National Digital Learning Resource Network and SCIS

Discussion followed as to future directions for SCIS in the area of subject access.

Les Kneebone
Les Kneebone presents an overview of ScOT

The ScOT in SCIS project commenced in 2006 when the thinking was that keyword searching would become the pre-eminent means of resource retrieval. Since then SCIS has offered schools the option of downloading both SCIS Subject Headings and ScOT terms in their catalogue records. The challenge is how to manage and display both SCIS subject headings and ScOT terms in a meaningful way for users in order to exploit the inferred links between resources tagged with ScOT terms that match a curriculum tagged with ScOT terms.

Also discussed was an alternative scenario of transition from use of SCIS Subject Headings to ScOT terms and how schools would manage this process.

SCIS asks

SCIS is conducting a consultation workshop in Melbourne on Tuesday 4 December 2012 from 9.00-1.00pm. The consultation aims to engage SCIS and its partners in discussion about future priorities in our support of school libraries.

Spiral sculpture
Spiral, Rena Voronoff, 2007
Photo by Michael Jongen

Twitter hashtag for the day: #scisasks

9.00am Welcome, SCIS update and consultation goals

9.15am Strategic directions

9.45am Resource Description and Access

  • Introduction to RDA and its benefits for education libraries (Renate Beilharz, Box Hill TAFE)
  • Recommended changes to SCIS Standards for Cataloguing (Pam Kadow, SCIS Cataloguing Team Leader)
  • Discussion and questions
    Outcome: Resolutions on RDA implementation dates and process

11.00am Morning Tea

11.30am ScOT and subject access in SCIS

  • Subject authorities looking forward
  • Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) in library systems
  • Australian Curriculum alignment opportunities
  • Discussion and questions
    Outcome: Resolutions on research required and timeline

12.15pm Integrating digital collections

  • Challenges of collection building and workflows
  • Priorities for cataloguing digital content
  • Discussion and questions
    Outcome: Recommendations on priority areas for SCIS services

1.00pm SCIS Consultation closes
Participants are encouraged to stay for a light lunch and then join delegates at the keynote session and opening reception for the IDEA 2012 conference at the Sofitel, 25 Collins Street Melbourne.

2.00pm Keynote: The science and technology of learning, Professor Erik Duval, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
3.15pm Afternoon tea
3.45pm Panel: Challenges and opportunities for digital learning including Rhyan Bloor, Digital Education Branch, DEEWR; Rodney Spark, eWorks; Kerri-Lee Krause, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), University of Western Sydney and Bevan Doyle, Chief Information Officer, Department of Education Western Australia

5.30pm IDEA2012 Reception and Networking

6.30pm IDEA 2012 Day 1 close

Contact scisinfo@esa.edu.au for further information

Which subject search?

The new SCIS Catalogue provides a number of ways to search by subject. To choose the most useful subject search option for your purpose, first consider whether you are looking for:

  1. a SCIS Subject Heading or ScOT term to apply to a catalogue record, or
  2. resources on a particular subject.

1. TO FIND A SUBJECT HEADING

Subject tab returns term anywhere in subject

Subject tab search

Selecting the subject tab before entering a search term provides the most comprehensive option for a subject heading search, looking for the subject term anywhere in subject, and returning any matching SCIS Subject Headings and ScOT terms in an alphabetical list.

The number of related titles, and details of any broader and narrower terms are provided below the subject heading.
While the default display is set to a list of 20 subject terms per page, this number can be changed to 10, 25 or 50 records per page prior to searching.

Subject browse returns term at the start of a subject

Basic search: Subject browse

The Subject browse drop down option within Basic search returns an alphabetical list of SCIS Subject Headings and ScOT terms that start with this term and also provides a count of titles and details of references.

This is helpful for finding the most appropriate subdivision of a SCIS Subject Heading.

2. TO FIND RESOURCES ON A SUBJECT
Note: these search options will provide a list of records, not a list of subject headings.

Basic search: Subject returns records with the term anywhere in subject

Basic search: Subject

Subject search within basic search looks for the search term anywhere in any subject heading and returns the records that meet that criteria.

Results are sorted alphabetically by title, but can be changed to a sort by publication date or author using the drop down options at the top right of the search results.

To find the subject heading used for a particular title, click on the title to display the full record and view the subjects. Click through from the full record to investigate that subject heading further.

Advanced search

Advanced search is accessed from the top right hand banner menu of the SCIS Catalogue, and provides the option to combine a subject search with other search parameters. Advanced search will return a list of records, sorted alphabetically by title.

Advanced search by subject and GMD







Screenshots of SCIS Catalogue courtesy of Ex Libris Voyager system

New SCIS subject headings for electronic devices

The SCIS Information Services Standards Committee met by teleconference on 25 May 2011. The major outcome of the teleconference is a revision of the SCIS subject heading hierarchy covering types of computers and device names.

The New South Wales SCIS agency prepared the original paper which was raised for discussion in February 2011.  As the paper was complex and included many aspects of the subject area of computers and related devices, further discussion and consultation, particularly with the WA SCIS agency was required before the proposal was approved.

New headings for the following categories of devices are now available:

Digital media players
E-book readers
Interactive whiteboards
Laptop computers
Pocket computers
Portable computers
Smartphones
Tablet computers

Most of these headings allow for the construction of further headings for specific devices, such as iPad (Tablet computer) and Kindle (E-book reader).

Further details of the changes will be announced in the term 3 2011 issue of Connections (issue 78).

New and Changed SCIS Subject Headings

The SCIS Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC) recently met for one of its regular teleconferences.  As part of normal teleconference proceedings, proposed changes to the SCIS Subject Headings were discussed and agreed upon.

The changes included 2 new subject headings, Non-government organisations and Case studies, as well as revisions to the reference structures of the terms Matter, Operas, Biology, Evolution and Variation (Biology).

A detailed list of the changes is available from the SCIS website, and if you are a SCISWeb subscriber you can of course review all the above headings and their reference structures in the SCISWeb OPAC, or in Subject Headings Online if you have a subscription to that (Note: you’ll need to login first).

For those of you who download the SCIS Authority Files for implementation of the Subject Headings in your own library system, the newly authorised headings and amended reference structures will be included in the August 2010 Authority File update.

SCIS Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC)

Ever wondered how changes to the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry or SCIS Subject Headings are decided on? Both are the responsibility of the SCIS Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC), which is comprised of representatives from Education Services Australia, members of our agencies in the education departments of Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales, and representatives from the National Library of New Zealand. Members of the ISSC also contribute to the Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) discussion group.

The ISSC continually revises the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry and SCIS Subject Headings in order to ensure that they remain in keeping with international standards, whilst also ensuring that schools’ specialised needs are taken into account. Members of the ISSC draw on their experience in providing cataloguing and support services to school libraries and their links to curriculum experts within their organisations in order to provide informed discussion on the adoption of  new or modified headings, alterations to the cataloguing standards and other enhancements to the SCIS service.

The ISSC group conducts regular meetings throughout the year via teleconference, as well as utilising an edna group page which acts as an online forum for the exchange of discussion papers, regular updates and news.

If you have any questions about how SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry are implemented in SCIS bibliographic records, or wish to suggest a change to the SCIS Subject Headings we would love to hear from you.  Drop us a line at scisinfo@esa.edu.au – we’re here to help!

Connections issue 72 …

Quentin Blake at Kings Cross St Pancreas, London

…is currently winging its way across the Tasman into New Zealand schools for the first time ever! Those of you in Australian schools  should also be receiving their free print copy shortly, if you haven’t already.

This term’s edition has a reprint of our favourite Quentin Blake poster, ‘The rights of the reader’ for you to pull out and display, and our feature article is by Doug Johnson, Director of media and technology at Mankato, Minnesota Public Schools in the United States, on the need for libraries to respond to the needs of what he refers to as a post-literate society.  How libraries can best support the needs of their users whilst simultaneously responding to current changes in technology is a highly topical, occasionally polarising subject at present, and we’d be very interested to hear some comments from schools on Doug’s article.

We also have a really inspiring article, After school in the library media centre by Bob Hassett, head librarian at Luther Jackson Middle School, also in the States, about how he and his library team have fostered local support to implement and maintain an after-school Gamer’s club in their school library, and some of the positive flow-on effects this ‘un-traditional’ activity has had for both the library and the students.

With the next release of the SCIS Authority files due to be released in March this year we also have the latest changes to the SCIS Subject Headings.  This quarter we have made changes to the reference structure of a number of existing headings, and we have implemented a number of new subject headings in response to requests by schools.   A brief summary of these is included in Connections, or for more information, see our detailed list.  If you would like to suggest a new subject heading, or a change to an existing subject heading, please contact us here at SCIS with your suggestion.

Please remember also that the full text of this and past issues of Connections (back to 2006) are freely available online at:
http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/connections/latest_issue.html

The image above is from flickr creative commons, and can be viewed at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/egfocus/
/ CC BY 2.0