How I became a cataloguer

SCIS cataloguer Laura Iseman writes about her career as a librarian, and what she loves about cataloguing.

As is common with many librarians, I loved reading as a child. I had a respectable collection of books, and I organised them on my shelves by how much I liked them. This was perhaps not the best system, but I knew where they all were.

My love of books led me to make them my career, and my first professional position was as a children’s librarian in a public library. In those days, it was not yet common for records to be imported. So adding items to the collection meant the individual creation of all records and the children’s collection was my responsibility.

Because I was cataloguing all the new acquisitions, I was very familiar with the collection. When working with children visiting the library I knew what the latest trends were and could let them know what was available. I liked knowing that my work meant students could easily find the resources they were looking for.

In addition to the fun of looking at all the new books, I also enjoyed the process of cataloguing. I am a process worker by nature, and I like categories. Every book is different, but the fundamental structure of the catalogue record doesn’t change. I enjoy the challenge of choosing the best terms and classification for each resource, to give the people looking for them the best chance of finding what they want.

I progressed from cataloguing only children’s books to working on the full collection and then to working in academic libraries. By this time, many records were available online. But there were always those obscure or very new titles that needed a full record made. At the university this, of course, included the research output of the students and staff.

Cataloguing theses can be a real challenge, particularly doctorate theses. I was very grateful to have access to Google when I was working on them. I am not a trained scientist, and sometimes I needed to look up all the words in the thesis title to be sure I was assigning the right subjects. This also exposed me to a range of topics I would never have chosen to investigate. I know more about microbiology than I ever expected to know, and for a while I was quite up to date on research into the prevention of malaria. Higher mathematics, however, remains a mystery to me. Cataloguing academic theses did give me some idea of just how broad this topic can be.

Works in the humanities were closer to my interests, and I appreciated the new ideas that I saw expressed. One, in particular, that has remained with me was a study of Jewish immigrants to Melbourne in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I was interested in the discussion of the ways that religious practices and dietary restrictions helped to maintain the community as distinct from society at large. So much of our social bonding happens over food, it is difficult to develop intimate relationships with people if you can’t eat together.

My career as a cataloguer has come full circle and I am once again working on resources for children and young adults. I am enjoying the fact that these titles rarely contain words I don’t know. I can delight in seeing new picture books and be reminded of old favourites as they are re-issued.

The daily pattern of my work now is one I could not have imagined when I first started. The idea that I could make quality records without having the items in hand would have been bewildering when I first started cataloguing. The fundamental process is still the same though, and I still find satisfaction in knowing that I am helping many people in their search for knowledge, enlightenment, or a cosy read to enjoy before bedtime.

How to start decolonising your library collection

Thinking about doing a stocktake or audit of your library collection at any time can be a daunting task. Some librarians and staff may find they’ve inherited a large and aging collection. And you may get the feeling that if you remove too many things, you’ll be left with hardly any resources at all!

But never has the concept of ‘quality over quantity’ been more true or important than when we’re talking about decolonising Australian school library collections. If you’ve felt that your school library may contain materials about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that are out of date, factually incorrect and even offensive, but have been too overwhelmed by the scope of the task of dealing with them, you may find this guide helpful.

1. Get yourself into the mindset

If you haven’t already read it, this article in our Connections school library journal might inform and inspire you. It describes the first-hand experiences of a teacher librarian and a First Nations parent when they embarked on a similar project.

2. Assembling your criteria for the assessment of resources

You need to set some parameters to help you decide what to keep and what to remove from your collection. The good news is many others have already considered this! There’s a seminal set of criteria written by the Curriculum Corporation; a shorter set of guidelines developed by the Queensland Museum; and a guide written by Narragunnawali which amalgamates the two.

You can use these documents to develop a set of criteria that is appropriate and usable for your specific needs.

3. Deciding where to begin

You may wish to break the project up into stages, especially if you have a big collection. This might mean looking at sectioning off parts of your project into categories like:

  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Picture books
  • Big books
  • Teacher resources
  • Readers
  • Audiobooks
  • Audiovisual material

You may also need to break up non-fiction into sections. If you use Dewey, consider beginning with:

  • 200 – Religion. (If you use SCIS, you’ll find resources relating to Indigenous spirituality at 298)
  • 300 – Social Sciences
  • 900 – History and Geography

These Dewey classifications are where you’re likely to find the bulk of your resources about First Nations peoples of Australia.

4. Assembling your team

If you only have a small collection, you may be able to tackle this job on your own, bit by bit. But if you have a larger collection you may need help. If you’re able, perhaps you can call on teaching staff to help out at certain times. Your parent community may also be able to help – and maybe even people from the local community too. This is where your carefully crafted criteria for assessment of resources will come in handy – it will ensure everyone is on the same page!

You may also like to do an initial sweep of your collection, and then have a team of ‘reviewers’ who are familiar with your assessment criteria, who can double check the resources you are keeping and discarding. This can be a good way of checking you are on the right track, and of making the job a community endeavour.

5. Get started!

Things are always busy in a school library and the ‘right’ time might not just jump out at you – so you will have to make it happen. Perhaps you could have a working bee, and get lots done in one fell swoop…or perhaps you might make it a project the team might work on over a term, or even several terms, in between other work. But the most important thing you can do is just to get started! Every small step you take towards this goal is a positive one, even if there are missteps along the way.

6. Use your Criteria for Assessment as a basis for selection criteria for new resources

Just because a resource has been recently published doesn’t mean that it will automatically fit your revised criteria! Make sure you have a clear idea of what types of resources you want to add to your collection. Some libraries have a policy, for example, of only purchasing new resources about First Nations peoples if they are authored by First Nations peoples – or if they are endorsed by First Nations communities. You may like to preference resources published by First Nations publishers; or you may see, after auditing your collection, that there are gaps in your collection that need filling. Adding some detail around selecting First Nations materials in your Collection Development policy will help you stay on track with your goal of maintaining a decolonised collection.

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful, and that you are inspired to get started on your own project. The last thing to emphasise here is that we must take responsibility, as librarians and educators, to ensure we are informed and able to make sensitive and considered decisions about what is contained in our collections, without deferring responsibility and mental load to others. It is up to us to get started and begin this work – and there’s no better time for that than now.

We’d love to hear about your own experiences – if you’ve started, had blockers, or managed to complete an audit of your own. Please add your comments or send us an email telling us your story.

10 essential resources for online cataloguing

SCIS cataloguer Heath Walsh reveals his 10 most essential sources for creating quality catalogue records.

As I work through my daily cataloguing lists at SCIS I have a set of go-to online resources that I use to help me with my cataloguing work. The list of these resources below describes how they aid my cataloguing, and is designed to help any school library staff who wish to tap up their own records.

Trove / Libraries Australia

Cataloguing is a collaborative process, not only between work colleagues but between cataloguing agencies. This is especially true at SCIS where we attempt to catalogue titles that we do not have on hand and so must rely on online data from other agencies. For this reason, the Trove discovery service – or the subscription service Libraries Australia, which helps underpin Trove – is essential for SCIS cataloguers.

Hosted by the National Library of Australia in partnership with content providers, Trove is an Australian online library database aggregator and service which includes full text documents, digital images, bibliographic and holdings data of items which are not available digitally, and a search engine as a discovery tool.

Worldcat provides a similar service globally, but bibliographic records from the Australian National Bibliographic Database (ANBD) are also uploaded into the WorldCat global union catalogue, which means that records found in Worldcat can often be found in Libraries Australia. Libraries Australia provides MARC records not only for titles found in ANBD but also Worldcat, which makes it an essential subscription service for cataloguers.

A picture of the trove libraries Australia interface
The Trove Libraraies Australia interface

WebDewey

WebDewey provides search functions that make locating the relevant Dewey classification number and cataloguing efficient and accurate. The database, which is updated regularly, includes the most current version of the Dewey Decimal Classification.

I can’t imagine constructing Dewey numbers from print volumes like librarians used to do last century. Rifling through four volumes of the Dewey Decimal Classification tool to find the relevant number for a particular topic seems awfully onerous compared to the lovely search indexes found in WebDewey.

A subscription is required, but this is an essential resource not only for constructing Dewey numbers, but as further input for subject classification given that it has its own taxonomy of subjects.

Library of Congress Authorities

When it comes to creating new SCIS personal name authorities, input from the Library of Congress is useful when there is confusion over definitive renderings of personal names. At SCIS when we devise new SCIS authority subject headings we are mindful of Library of Congress treatment as input for our working papers, thanks to this search engine.

Booktopia

At SCIS we often work through ebook lists and Booktopia is very handy due to its coupling of print and ebook formats for a given title in separate tabs. The same goes for audiobooks. It is also a great source for finding target audience data, such as age-appropriate classifications.

The Booktopia interface
The Booktopia interface

Books In Print

A subscription is required to access data in this Bowker resource, which is invaluable for finding data on publishers and their physical locations. Great for gleaning target audience data and reading levels, this resource also sometimes provides a Dewey number.

An example of reading level data from Books in Print
An example of reading level data from Books in Print
The resource interface from Books in Print
The resource interface of Books in Print

Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT)

When cataloguing video shorts on specific concepts – typically in mathematics and science – this thesaurus is terrific. At SCIS we provide these headings in bibliographic records. As a cataloguer I have needed assistance from this thesaurus to select suitable SCIS headings.

ScOT provides a controlled vocabulary of terms used in Australian and New Zealand schools. It encompasses all subject areas as well as terms describing educational and administrative processes. The thesaurus links non-preferred terms to curriculum terms.

Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory

This is the online authority for data on periodicals. Subscription is required, which we do not have at SCIS, but I have wished for it whenever a SCIS subscriber requests a SCIS record for a magazine or serial title.

ISBNdb

ISBNdb gathers data from libraries, publishers, merchants and other sources around the globe to compile a vast collection of book data searchable by ISBN, title, author or publisher.

ISBNdb calls itself ‘The world’s largest book database’. I have tended to use it when I have been unable to get results from my usual sources such as Libraries Australia or Books In Print.

ISBN converter

Situated on Bowker’s ISBN.org website, this is great for when I need a quick conversion from the old 10-digit ISBN format to the current 13-digit. This can occur at SCIS when we have old records that require enhancement, often in response to subscriber requests.

RDA Toolkit

At SCIS, when we do not apply our own standards related to content, we turn to RDA. Institutions require a subscription to access the Toolkit, which now enables subscribers to create what is called an application profile. This presents the way in which a subscriber applies RDA in its own institution.

I hope you find these resources useful as you navigate your way through the seas of bibliographic description. Bon voyage!

 

Reading for global peace and harmony: International School Library Month collection development

The month of October is International School Library Month. This year’s theme is reading for global peace and harmony. SCIS Cataloguing Team Leader Ceinwen Jones has some great suggestions for developing your library collections in support of this theme.

On first impressions, the International School Library Association seems to be setting some lofty aims for this year.

But isn’t reading for global peace and harmony what teacher librarians have been promoting since school libraries began? That is, providing materials that give students a chance to be transported to other worlds, and generating knowledge, understanding and appreciation for achievements, peoples, cultures and lives that are different to their own.

This ongoing work is surely a powerful and important step towards global peace and harmony.

What, then, is the best way to focus our resources on better achieving this goal? First, we must ensure our collections reflect the diversity of our communities, both local and global. By providing and promoting access to a variety of voices and perspectives, we can celebrate the ways diversity enhances our lives.

Here are five recently catalogued titles reflecting diversity, easily found using the search function in the SCIS database – an excellent tool for developing your collection!

Indigenous Australian history from the perspective of a First Nations female historian

Sister girl: Reflections on Tiddaism, identity and reconciliation

Jackie Huggins

SCIS number: 5396925

A new edition of Murri historian and activist Jackie Huggins’s seminal Tiddaist classic, featuring timely and compelling speeches and essays. The pieces in this collection represent almost four decades of writing, including essays, speeches and interviews. They combine both the public and the personal in a bold trajectory tracing one Murri woman’s journey towards self-discovery and human understanding. As a widely respected cultural educator and analyst, Huggins offers an Aboriginal view of the history, values and struggles of Indigenous people. Sister Girl reflects on many important and timely topics, including identity, activism, leadership and reconciliation. It challenges accepted notions of the appropriateness of mainstream feminism in Aboriginal society and of white historians writing Indigenous history. Jackie Huggins’s words, then and now, offer wisdom, urgency and hope.

Learning about pronouns

The pronoun book

Chris Ayala-Kronos and Melita Tirado

SCIS number: 5415913

They, she, he … all together, us! Join along in this vibrant board book’s joyful celebration of people and their pronouns. How do you know what someone wants to be called? Ask! This lively board book features illustrations of a diverse cast of people and simple text that introduces their pronouns.

Celebrating neurodiversity

Wired differently: 30 neurodivergent people who you should know

Joe Wells and Tim Stringer

SCIS number: 5411451

Covering the spectrum of neurodiversity, the book features a range of inspirational people, from actors and entertainers, to athletes and activists, and shows young neurodiverse readers that often what makes you different can be your key to success. The chapters feature biographies that expand to cover a broad range of themes, such as the importance of lived experience in discussions of neurodiversity, challenging stereotypes, representation and creativity.

A celebration of our diverse world

A world for me and you: where everyone is welcome

Uju Asika and Jennie Poh

SCIS number: 5408759

Imagine a world where everyone looks identical, where all food tastes the same, where we all speak the same language. A world that is … well, pretty boring. This picture book encourages inclusion, acceptance and kindness, and invites readers to imagine the world as a vast library with room on the shelves for everybody’s story. It is a celebration of our incredibly diverse world as it really is: home to 195 countries, thousands of different cultures, 10 million colours, 6,500 different languages and 4,300 religions.

Diversity toolkit for teachers and librarians

Infobase’s diversity toolkit

edited by Sam Elkin [and three others]

SCIS number: 5419894

Celebrating diversity in the community helps foster a sense of respect, equity and inclusion. This website gathers a wealth of content and digital tools – including expert-led webinars, blogs and relevant Infobase resources – to empower users with fresh insights, information and practical strategies.

Free sacred texts

At SCIS, we’re constantly cataloguing new resources of all kinds, and we love letting our community know about any free resources. With the help of our friends at Infobase, we’ve created a brand new list of free sacred texts, which are useful for schools offering senior subjects such as Texts and traditions (Vic), Studies of religion (NSW, ACT), Religion and life (WA), Religion studies (SA, NT), Religion in society (Tas) and Study of religion (Qld).

If you have any free texts you would like SCIS to catalogue, you can ask us to add them to our database by submitting a cataloguing request.

Use the below SCIS numbers in the left-hand column to search for and download the resources from our database.

 

5414903 American Hero Myths Native American
5414918 Babylonian Legends of the Creation Babylonian
1311209 Bhagavad Gita as It Is Hinduism
5414960 Book of Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
5415607 Book of Shadows Wiccan religion
5415455 Bulfinch’s Mythology Greek and Roman mythology
5415418 Concerning Christian Liberty Christianity
5415427 Daodejing Daoism
5415436 Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria, West Africa African wisdom stories
5415568 Hebraic Literature, translations from the Talmud, Midrashim, and Kabbalah Judaism
5415449 History of the Reformation in Scotland Christianity
5415581 Holybooks.com
5418406 Hymns of the Eastern Church Christianity
1316415 Internet Sacred Text Archive
5415556 Legends of the Gods: The Egyptian Texts Ancient Egyptian mythology
5415580 More Jataka Tales Buddhism
5418364 Most Holy Book (Kitabi aqdas) Bahai faith
1587116 Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome Greek and Roman mythology
5415615 Myths and Legends of China Chinese mythology
5415810 Myths and Legends, The Celtic Race Celtic mythology
5415628 No Cross, No Crown By William Penn
5415634 Popol Vuh Quiche Maya of Guatemala
5415676 Representation of Deities of the Maya Manuscripts Mayan
5415882 Rubaiyat Islamic mysticism and Sufism
5415950 Sayings of the Fathers (Pirke Aboth) Judaism
5415853 Selections From the Writings of the Bab Babi religion, Bahai faith
5418856 Siri Guru Granth Sahib Sikhism
5415865 Songs of Kabir Islam, Hinduism, Sihkism
5415876 South African Folktales African folktales
5416171 Summa Theologica, Part III Roman Catholic
5416228 Táin bó Cuailnge Celtic mythology
5416193 The Bible, Douay Rheims Version Christianity
5416333 The Bible, King James Version Christianity
5416119 The City of God, Volume I Christianity
5416122 The City of God, Volume II Christianity
5418322 The Four Books Confucian
5415972 The Imitation of Christ Christianity
5415730 The Indian Fairy Book Native American
5415811 The Institutes of the Christian Religion Christianity
5414944 The Kitáb-i-Íqán Bahai faith
5415701 The Myths of the North American Indians Native American
5415849 The Quran Islam
5415689 The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi Hopi myths
5418316 Tibetan Book of the Dead Buddhism

5 questions you’ve been asking about the Schools Catalogue Information Service

The who, what, why, where and how of the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS).

Every day our customer service team speaks to staff from schools across Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and the world. Whether it be on the phone, via email, or in person, there are some questions that are more commonly asked than others. That’s why we’ve written this 101 guide on the five facts people most want to know about SCIS.

1. Who/what is SCIS?

The Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) is primarily a cataloguing service for your school library. Our service is a layer of data called catalogue records – these are like a digital version of the physical catalogue cards that libraries used to use many years ago. Our catalogue records can be imported into the software you use to manage your library (referred to as a Library Management System or LMS for short). Our records contain information about all your books and resources, and this helps you and your students to find resources when you search by keyword, subject, author, title, publisher or publication date.

We service almost 80 percent of schools in Australia, over 40 percent of schools in New Zealand, and our services are being taken up by a growing number schools across Great Britain and other parts of the world. We’re owned and run by an Australian not-for-profit company called Education Services Australia.

Creating catalogue data is laborious work, but it’s essential to students being able to find the information they need when they search in your library. Our cataloguers are all qualified librarians who skilfully sift through resources by hand to ensure our data is accurate and high-quality.

2. Why would my school need SCIS?

If you  ask any qualified librarian, they will tell you that cataloguing takes a huge amount of time and effort. Each resource catalogued must be examined and classified with a set of terms that are consistent across records, otherwise your resources become increasingly hard to find in your database. For example if your library uses the subject heading “World War II” on one history book but then uses “World War 2” for another, both books might not appear in in the same search. Our service spares you all the time and effort of creating this complicated and essential data yourself, and your school can ask us to catalogue new resources for you whenever you like.

Many people don’t realise that failing to catalogue resources with accurate, consistent information makes managing, stocktaking and weeding your collection very difficult.

Additionally, having one over-arching, cohesive catalogue can be of great help even if you don’t have a centralised library – quality cataloguing is still important when your resources are split up between classrooms. If one class is doing an assignment on volcanoes and students can’t locate any of the relevant resources in any other classrooms, there can be some significant consequences, including:

  • Your students missing out on fundamental learning and research opportunities
  • You and your colleagues being forced to spend additional time locating resources physically rather than digitally
  • The valuable resources you have spent time and money acquiring sit on a shelf unused.

All school staff benefit from SCIS records as they help to save school staff time (which is a precious resource in all schools) and help provide the correct resources to your students.

3. What products does SCIS offer?

SCIS offers two main products: SCIS Data and Authority Files.

SCISData provides you with access to our catalogue record database of over 1.6 million high-quality catalogue records. With a SCISData subscription, you can search and download as many of these as you like – and this includes records for digital products in addition to physical books.

Authority Files are files that generate ‘see’ and ‘see also’ references for searches in your catalogue, meaning that if you search for books about ‘bugs’ you can also return results on books that include ‘insects’ as their subject. Authority Files create important, verified connections between related subjects, names and series.

These two products together create a powerful combination and streamline your school library services. This saves you time and allows you to focus more on what matters: connecting with your students.

In addition to our two subscription products, SCIS also offers professional learning opportunities and library barcode scanners. Our professional learning sessions are designed to help you learn to manage your resources effectively and optimise your students’ learning experiences. And, of course, our barcode scanners will assist you at the circulation desk to ensure all loans and returns are processed smoothly and efficiently!

4. Does SCIS provide any free support?

SCIS assists in connecting an enormous variety of teachers, school staff, parent volunteers and library professionals. We endeavour to provide this vast community with the best support we can. We publish a termly magazine in print and online called Connections, where you can find out the latest school library news. Connections publishes pieces written by practising educators, teachers, library staff, authors and industry figures, offering a wide variety of views to reflect the variety of our audience.

Additionally, we often share news and updates across our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Vimeo. Our Vimeo page offers all viewers free advice that can help you make the most of your SCIS subscription.

And lastly, we have a wonderful blog – which you’re reading right now! We post all sorts of news from educators, publishers and our own news on this site. We welcome all manner of contributions to this blog, so if you have any ideas, please feel welcome to write to us about it!

5. Is SCIS the software I use when I’m searching in my library?

SCIS is not what’s known as a Library Management System (LMS). When you’re using your system, the interface is not what we’ve created. There are a number of wonderful vendors who create all sorts of different Library Management Systems you can use, and we work with all of them.

Our data sits ‘under the hood’ of your LMS. It powers your searches for resources, provides data consistency that makes them findable, and gives you back the time it would take to catalogue your resources manually. That’s the magic of SCIS, we work so seamlessly within your Library Management System that we’re practically invisible!

Provocative punctuations: a day in the life of a cataloguer

When I tell people what I do, I often find that the general impression of librarians (and cataloguers, in particular) is that the job must be a bit boring, but at least we get to read books all day.

Some of this is true – tackling that pile of maths textbooks can get a little dull. However, sometimes my to-do list contains a real gem among the everyday humdrum.

To give you an idea of what these diamonds in the rough look like, I’ve put together a list of some of the more provocative resources that have recently punctuated my days with both intrigue and humour.

  1. Tazzie the turbo chook finds her feet
    SCIS no: 5410326

Australian picture books have delighted me ever since I read Harry the hairy-nosed wombat as a child. My latest happy find was Tazzie the turbo chook finds her feet by Sonia Strong. I had not previously been aware of the existence of this Tasmanian native-hen known affectionately as the ‘turbo chook’. (Apparently this flightless bird has been clocked running at more than 50 km/h, although that may be an exaggeration.) The artwork is a delight as well. I was only sorry that, as I did not have the book in hand, I couldn’t read about how Tazzie managed to defeat the nasty feral cat.

  1. Zelensky: the story. The country’s top comic
    SCIS no: 5408453

The resources that schools ask SCIS to catalogue vary widely and often include videos. I recently catalogued a documentary biography of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It was fascinating to see a former TV star presented as an effective president at a time of invasion. The contrast between footage of his comedy career, and his current role was striking.

  1. Poo, spew and other gross things animals do!
    SCIS no: 5397452

When working with resources aimed at children, it can help to have an ‘earthy’ sense of humour. I was recently called upon to catalogue a CSIRO publication called Poo, spew and other gross things animals do! written by Nic Gill and Romane Cristescu, with illustrations by Rachel Tribout. This book delivers on the promise of the title, describing in delightfully disgusting detail the many and varied products of animal digestion.

  1. The mapmaker
    SCIS no: 5410486

The highlight of my cataloguing work today happened to be a graphic novel by an up-and-coming Australian author. The mapmaker, by Ben Slabak and illustrated by Francesca Carità, is the first volume in a series. It is a tale of pirates and magic in a parallel Earth during the age of discovery. Appropriate for all ages.

  1. Wombat can’t sing
    SCIS no:
    5400579

I will round out my list with another Australian picture book, Wombat can’t sing by Katie Stewart. Wombat would like to make people happy, like his friend Fantail whose singing is a delight. Wombat’s attempts to learn to sing are not very successful, even with the help of his friends. He eventually finds his own way of making others happy. The artwork showing the animals and birds featured is beautiful, and I got a good chuckle at the image of Wombat trying to sing like Frog.

End of an era for Issues in Society

Justin Healey reflects on editing and publishing the Issues in Society series, after recently announcing the impending closure of The Spinney Press.

In late May this year, The Spinney Press released its final print and digital editions in the popular Issues in Society resource series after 30 years and 484 volumes.

Volumes 479–484 are the last six titles in the series and represent some core topics of concern over the years: Asylum seekers and refugees, Indigenous health and wellbeing, Family trends and changes, Youth crime and justice, Self-harm and suicide prevention, and Gender and equality.

In recent days, I have been overwhelmed by kind farewell email messages from school librarians, some of whom have supported the series since it began in 1992 when it was rather short-sightedly called Issues for the Nineties! (The series became Issues in Society in 1998.)

The publishing business is in the process of gradually closing down, due to family reasons. Chief among them is the need to care more for my delightful teenage daughter who lives with complex disability and health issues.

It has been an honour and a privilege to produce the Issues in Society series for so long – initially in tandem with my mother Kaye Healey as editor for 8 years, then myself as editor/publisher for the last 22 years – along with the invaluable expertise of a small team of long-term colleagues.

Issues in Society has long enjoyed loyal and trusted subscriber support from secondary schools around Australia. When Digital Editions were introduced back in 2011, schools embraced them with enthusiasm. The pairing of print and ebook editions ensured that anyone in a school could have easy and affordable access to our issues.

As you may already know, every Issues in Society title consists of a thoroughly researched compilation of the best available content on current social issues topics. I must acknowledge the thousands of contributors to our books over three decades, who all gave permission to reproduce their works in our resources. To our authors from the media, government and non-government organisations, lobby groups, academia, and to our creative cartoonists, we salute them!

I have explored an immensely diverse array of topics: the perennial debates on voluntary euthanasia and drug law reform; the cumulative consequences of climate change; human rights concerns such as racism and Australia’s treatment of refugees; contemporary concerns like our nation’s relations with China; sexual consent and harassment; and the ethics of new technologies such as artificial intelligence. The list of fascinating topics is indeed long.

I have been asked over the years what has made The Spinney Press such a long-term independent presence in the educational publishing industry. I think it really comes down to having established a unique niche by covering current topics which traverse school curricula and fill the gaps in many a syllabus. And we have been nothing if not current, curious and consistent!

I feel a great sense of pride at the sustained relevance and longevity of the Issues in Society series. And I feel satisfied that so many school libraries will still be able to engage their readers with their legacy collection of titles, which will continue to provide an overview on issues in our society for years to come.

By Justin Healey, Editor & Publisher, The Spinney Press.

The Spinney Press will continue to trade over the next 6 months and offer customer sales support for all backlist Issues in Society print and Digital Editions – via email and online.

If your school library needs to download and save new or past Digital Editions from The Spinney Press website, please ensure you access your web account before 31 December 2022.

You can find the SCIS numbers for the most recent editions below:

  1. Family trends and changes: 5393755
  2. Gender and equality: 5393752
  3. Self-harm and suicide prevention: 5393736
  4. Self-harm and suicide prevention: 5393735
  5. Youth crime and justice: 5393734
  6. Youth crime and justice: 5393727
  7. Family trends and changes: 5393707
  8. Indigenous health and wellbeing: 5393761
  9. Indigenous health and wellbeing: 5393638
  10. Asylum seekers and refugees: 5393633
  11. Asylum seekers and refugees: 5393634
  12. Gender and equality: 5393739

Indigenous resources to add to your school library collection

 

Indigenous resources to add to your school library collection

To celebrate National Reconciliation Week 2022, the SCIS team has created a list of wonderful new Indigenous resources catalogued over the last year. Whether your students are into science, history, sport, art, dance or just love reading great stories, there’s something for everyone here. If you have a SCIS subscription, use the SCIS number provided below to find and download the catalogue records into your library catalogue.

Primary school resources

Title: Story doctors
Author: Boori Monty Pryor
Illustrator: Rita Sinclair
SCIS number: 5378457

Summary: From the very first stories and art, to dance, language and connection with the land here, Boori offers a rich account of Australia’s true history. This is an illustrated celebration of the power of storytelling, how nature connects us, and the truth that the medicine needed for healing lies within us all.

Title: Hello and welcome
Author: Gregg Dreise
SCIS number: 5354188

Summary: This picture book celebrates Australia’s Indigenous heritage and the diversity we enjoy today. Hello and welcome to our corroboree. Hello and welcome to our gathering. Father Sky, Mother Earth, together here with me. Different colours, different people, together in harmony.

Title: Indigenous Australia for kids
Author: Larissa Behrendt
SCIS number: 5376598

Summary: The Indigenous peoples who live in what we now call Australia have extraordinary histories. Here you can learn about their cultures and how they’ve shaped modern Australian society with this fun and fascinating guide to the economies, art, spirituality and politics of the First Nations peoples. You can learn about things like The Dreaming, what a corroboree is and how Australia’s past shapes the realities that First Nations people experience today. Discover the Indigenous Australian culture that surrounds you and how you can contribute to a world we all aspire to live in.

Title: Heroes, rebels and innovators: inspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from history
Authors: Karen Wyld and Jaelyn Biumaiwai
SCIS number: 5364825

Summary: These seven stories are about important Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from history. Each colourful spread in this illustrated book tells a story.

Title: Somebody’s land: welcome to our country
Authors: Adam Goodes, Ellie Laing
Illustrator: David Hardy
SCIS number: 5375433

Summary: For thousands and thousands of years, Aboriginal people lived in the land we call Australia. The land was where they built their homes, played in the sun, and sat together to tell stories. When the white people came, they called the land Terra Nullius. They said it was nobody’s land. But it was somebody’s land.

Somebody’s land is an invitation to connect with First Nations culture, to acknowledge the hurt of the past and to join together as one community with a precious shared history as old as time.

Title: The story of Australia, First people – 1805
Author: William Finch
SCIS number: 1997864

Summary: Come with Australian Geographic on a story through time as we explore the early history of our nation, including the First Nations peoples and their culture, the arrival of the Europeans and the First Fleet, the development of the penal colony, the spread of European settlement and their documented clashes with Indigenous peoples.

Title: The first scientists: deadly inventions and innovations from Australia’s First Peoples
Author: Corey Tutt
Illustrator: Blak Douglas
SCIS number: 5382399

Summary: Have you ever wondered what the stars can tell us? Did you know the seasons can be predicted by looking at subtle changes in nature? Maybe you have wondered about the origins of glue or if forensic science is possible without a crime scene investigation.

Australia’s First Peoples have the longest continuing culture on Earth and their innovation will amaze you as you leaf through the pages of this book, learning fascinating facts and discovering the answers to life’s questions. In consultation with communities, Corey tells us of many deadly feats, from bush medicine to bush trackers, that are today considered ‘science’, and introduces us to amazing scientists, both past and present. The breadth of ‘sciences’ is incredible with six main chapters covering astronomy, engineering, forensic science, chemistry, land management and ecology.

The first scientists passed on the lessons of the land, sea and sky to the future scientists of today through stories, song and dance, and many of these lessons are now shared in this book.

Title: Macquarie junior atlas of Indigenous Australia
Authors: Bill Arthur and Victoria Morgan
SCIS number: 5394348

Summary: The Junior atlas of Indigenous Australia is a unique tool for students in upper primary and early secondary years to explore and gain understanding of the lives and cultures of Australia’s First Peoples. An atlas can represent – in graphic form – a pattern of human activities in space and time. This second edition of the Macquarie atlas of Indigenous Australia opens a window onto the landscape of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives, from over 60,000 years ago to the present time.

Title: Open your heart to country
Author: Jasmine Seymour
SCIS number: 5405428

Summary: A moving account of reconnection to Country from a First Nations perspective. Sharing the nourishing power of returning home and being immersed in the language of Country, this picture book invites readers to reflect on the importance of place, not only for First Nations peoples, but for everyone.

Title: Island places! The Torres Strait
Author: Sharlene Coombs
Illustrator: Dean Maynard
SCIS number: 5388341

Summary: Come on a journey of discovery and explore what makes the Torres Strait and its First Nations people so special – from their seafaring way of life and skilful fishing abilities to their traditional music and dance customs. Australia has some special places full of history and culture, and the Torres Strait is one of them!

Title: Uncle Finny’s war: the forgotten soldier
Author: Nigel Allsopp
Illustrator: June Hintz
SCIS number: 5364325

Summary: Finny grew up on a station in central Australia. He worked as a stockman and could ride a horse better than any man. When the First World War began, Finny tried to join the army, but Aboriginal people were not allowed. As the war continued, the government restrictions were eased so Aboriginal people and other men of colour were allowed to enlist. Finny was one of the first to sign up to the Light Horse Regiment.

Title: Born to run
Author: Cathy Freeman
Illustrator: Charmaine Ledden-Lewis
SCIS number: 5375604

Summary: As a little girl, Cathy Freeman had only had one dream – to win a gold medal at the Olympics. At 27 years of age, that dream came true. At the Sydney 2000 Games, she crossed the finish line, won a gold medal for Australia and became a national hero.

How did she go from being a little girl who loved to run to an inspiration to people around the world? Cathy tells her story about where self-belief, hard work and the power of a loving family can take you.

Secondary school resources

Title: Australia Day
Author: Stan Grant
SCIS number: 1997956

Summary: In Australia Day, Stan Grant’s long-awaited follow-up to Talking to My Country, Stan talks about our country, who we are as a nation, the Indigenous struggle for belonging and identity in Australia and what it means to be Australian. A sad, wise, beautiful, reflective and troubled book, Australia Day asks the questions that have to be asked, but that no-one seems to be asking. Who are we? What is our country? How do we move forward from here?

Title: The boy from Mish
Author: Gary Lonesborough
SCIS number: 1998064

Summary: A sensitive coming-of age-story, filled with vivid descriptions of landscapes and clashes between First Nations’ cultures and modern Australia. This is a vital story for young people and provides a perspective that has been missing in Australian literature for too long.

Title: Tell me why: for young adults
Author: Archie Roach
SCIS number: 1995958

Summary: Archie Roach tells the story of his life and his music. Aged only two when he was forcibly removed from his family, and brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, Archie’s world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of. It took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was.

Title: My spare heart
Author: Jared Thomas
SCIS number: 5405270

Summary: Phoebe’s non-Indigenous mother, a busy event manager, and her father, an Aboriginal man and uni lecturer, have split up and she’s moved to sleepy old Willunga with her dad and his new health-obsessed girlfriend. It’s only a few kilometres from Phoebe’s old friends and the city, but it feels like another world. Her new school is full of hippies, but some of the kids are cool and the local basketball team is tight, and before long Phoebe’s fitting in. But as her mum becomes increasingly unreliable, Phoebe’s grades begin to suffer, her place on the basketball team is under threat and her worries spiral out of control. Phoebe can’t tell her friends and is worried her dad will get angry, but pretending everything is fine is breaking her heart. How can she help her mum without tearing her family apart?

Title: Exo-dimensions
Author/illustrator: Seraphina Newberry
Colourist: Justin Randall
SCIS number: 5376038

Summary: Mutants, cyborgs, failed clones and emotional wounds. This book is a ride into central Australian Indigenous creation stories woven through family relationships, honour and sheer adventure. This story unsettles linear time as the past catches up with the future and vice versa while the present reveals itself in intimate moments of connection, loss and mayhem.

Title: Fire country: how Indigenous fire management could help save Australia
Author: Victor Steffensen
SCIS number: 1957588

Summary: Fire Country is an account from Indigenous land-management expert Victor Steffensen on how the revival of Indigenous fire practices, including improved ‘reading’ of country and undertaking ‘cool burns’, could help to restore our nation.

Title: Swallow the air
Author: Tara June Winch
SCIS number: 1998719

Summary: A loss in the family leads to a journey of self-discovery that centres around finding oneself through connection with other people. Swallow the air is a startling debut from Tara June Winch that creates a strong emotional connection to the landscapes of Australia and the cultures of the people who inhabit them.

Title: After Australia
Author: Michael Mohammed Ahmad
SCIS number: 1975568

Summary: Climate catastrophe, police brutality, white genocide, totalitarian rule and the erasure of black history provide the backdrop for stories of love, courage and hope. In this unflinching new anthology, twelve of Australia’s most daring Indigenous writers and writers of colour provide a glimpse of Australia as we head toward the year 2050.

Title: The white girl
Author: Tony Birch
SCIS number: 1988353

Summary: Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. After her daughter disappeared and left her with her granddaughter Sissy to raise on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. When a new policeman arrives in town, determined to enforce the law, Odette must risk everything to save Sissy and protect everything she loves.

Title: The end of the game
Author: Michael Fiddian
SCIS number: 5394659

Summary: This novel tackles one of the big issues for Australian sport and society by highlighting how a young Aboriginal footy (Aussie Rules) player is revered for his skills on-the-field, versus how he is often treated as one of the young male Aboriginal men in his town.

National Reconciliation Week and SCIS

The Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) acknowledges the Eastern Kulin Nation, Traditional Custodians of the land on which our head office stands and pay our respects to Elders past and present. We recognise the Traditional Owners of Country across Australia, and their continuing connection and contribution to lands, waters, communities, and learning.

The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2022 is Be brave. Make change. SCIS recognises our responsibility to work for national progress in reconciliation and we are committed to continuing to make changes in our data for the benefit of all.

SCIS cataloguing standards recognise the rich and special nature of Indigenous communities in society. As an Australian and New Zealand focused database, we have some unique cataloguing standards in our database that recognise the Māori and Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Dewey Decimal Classification and book numbers

To give emphasis and a shorter number to religion, spirituality and creation stories of the Australian Aboriginal people, the permanently unassigned Dewey number 298 is used.

For works where the book number would, if built according to SCIS Standards, be ABO and covers topics on Australian Aboriginal peoples, substitute the letters ABL.

SCIS Subject Headings List (SCISSHL)

Resources on specific indigenous peoples are entered under their collective name, for example, Māori, Torres Strait Islanders, Aboriginal peoples.

Alternative terms for Aboriginal peoples, including First Nations (Australia), First peoples (Australia), Indigenous Australians have been added to the SCISSHL reference structure. This enables retrieval of resources using the variety of terms in current usage.

SCISSHL has provision to create names of specific groups of Iwi (Māori peoples) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Names of most major Māori tribes and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are already embedded into the SCIS subject authority file.

Māori terms where applicable are authorised, for example, Waka, Wharenui, Te Reo Māori.

Reconciliation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia is an allowed heading, along with Stolen generations.

Image showing a list of First Nations peoples in broad and narrow terms

SCIS Standards are always changing and adapting to meet our school library communities’ expectations. We welcome feedback; the SCIS Standards Committee is happy to receive and review suggestions from our school library community. Suggestions and comments can be sent to help@scisdata.com.