SCIS Subject Headings and your library catalogue

The importance of subject headings in a library catalogue can often go unnoticed. Consistent subject headings comprising what are known as ‘controlled vocabularies’ can be the difference between finding the resources you’re looking for quickly or wasting time attempting multiple searches that yield frustratingly few useful results.

Many people do not know, and would not suspect, the intricate way that subjects must be linked through their synonyms and related concepts to allow users to effectively explore a catalogue, linking terms and concepts with each other,  such as ‘dogs’ and ‘animals’.

This article delves into the evergreen world of SCIS subject headings; a unique and comprehensive index of relevant subject headings that work silently in the background to help create a quality search experience in schools.

What is a Subject Heading

Every record in SCIS Data contains subject headings that indicate the topical content of the resource. SCIS makes use of two different controlled vocabularies:

 Catalogue record highlighting subject headings
https://my.scisdata.com/discover/details/5383640

 

Subject headings in a bibliographic record have three key purposes:

  • To assist end-users to find the resources required to meet an information need;
  • To enable end-users to assess whether a resource contains the information required to meet an information need; and
  • To facilitate exploration of the database, locating similar resources.

Library catalogue advanced search interfaces rely on controlled vocabularies (explained below) to be effective. A search within the subject field uses controlled vocabularies; faceted searches (sometimes called search limiters) use controlled vocabularies

Scisdata.com advanced search interface, highlighting search in subject field.
Scisdata.com advanced search interface, highlighting search in subject field.

 

SCISData search results, highlighting the option to limit by facets on the lefthand side.
List of SCIS subject heading

Controlled Vocabluries

Controlled vocabularies are “established list of preferred terms from which a cataloger or indexer must select when assigning subject headings or descriptors in a bibliographic record, to indicate the content of the work in a library catalog, index, or bibliographic database”.[1]

Controlled vocabularies are an essential tool cataloguers use to ensure consistency of terminology. These lists ensure that an entity in a bibliographic database, whether it be a concept, object, person, place or event, is represented by a consistently used term or phrase.

For example, the concept ‘Disasters’ has synonyms ‘Calamities’ and ‘Catastrophes’. A controlled vocabulary will identify which term is the ‘authorised’ one, the one that will be used to identify resources about this concept. End-users using the terms ‘Calamities’ and ‘Catastrophes’ are referred to resources with the controlled term ‘’. This is important for an end-user because it means that a search for ‘calamities’ or ‘catastrophes’ will refer to the concept ‘disasters’ in order that both searches will not miss potentially relevant resources.

Uncontrolled Vocabularies

On the other end of the vocabularies scale are uncontrolled vocabularies, sometimes called folksonomies. These are lists of terms or words or phrases selected randomly, with no set list to choose from. Tag or hashtag lists, such as those used in social media sites such as Instagram, are folksonomies; they are not controlled. The terms are random and unrestricted, resulting in duplication, misspelling and incongruity. Some terms in a folksonomy may have no meaning to anyone, other than the creator of the tag. Uncontrolled vocabularies means that the user needs to guess what tags or headings have been allocated to a resource to find it.

References

Controlled vocabularies ensure consistency. End-users of databases with controlled vocabularies can be confident of locating all resources on a particular topic, especially because controlled vocabularies use cross- references.

References ‘refer’ end-users from unused terms to used headings, and between related used headings.

For example:

A search for ‘Natural disasters’ in SCIS Data will refer users to the used heading ‘Disasters’.

Record for the heading Disasters, with notes and references
Record for the heading Disasters, with notes and references

 

A search for Disasters can refer end-users to narrower headings such as ‘Avalanches’ and ‘Earthquakes’, or related terms such as ‘Accidents’ or ‘Disaster relief’.

SCIS Subject Headings List – a controlled vocabulary

SCIS Subject Headings List is the controlled vocabulary created to support the SCIS bibliographic database. It was first published in 1985, titled ASCIS Subject Headings, as a print volume. The fifth, and final print edition, was published in 2002. SCISSHL is now available as an online resource on the SCIS Data website https://my.scisdata.com/standards.

SCIS Data search interface for SCIS Subecjt Headings list

SCIS Subject Headings List is the ‘source of truth’ or ‘core’ used by SCIS cataloguers when selecting or devising appropriate subject headings for educational and curriculum resources catalogued into the SCIS Data. The list can be used by schools that subscribe to SCIS to assist their library staff in conforming to SCIS standards when adding subject headings to local resources.

 

SCISSHL contains

  1. an alphabetical listing of used and unused headings, with scope notes (definitions) if required);
  2. cross-references from unused to used headings and between allowed headings; and
  3. a set of prescriptive guidelines for the construction of other headings not in the list.

 

Using https://my.scisdata.com/standard

 

Entering a term into SCISSHL browse immediately presents the user with a list of terms.

  • Blue words are used headings. The hyperlink opens the record for that heading.
  • Grey italics terms are unused. The hyperlink opens the record for the related used heading.

For example:

SCISHL search result for the term Local. Arrow pointing to unused term in italics Local travel, another arrow pointing to the used heading in blue Local history. A third arrow pointing from the unused term Local travel to the record for the heading Public transport, with the UF Local travel.

 

 

 

Clicking on unused term, ‘Local travel’, opens the related used heading, ‘Public transport’.

Clicking on the used heading, ‘Local councils’, opens the full heading for that allowed term.

Record for the heading Local history, with notes and references

Heading records in SCISSHL

A heading record may have one or more of the following:

  • Use for Unused terms which are referenced to this used heading.
  • Broader terms Used headings which are broader in concept than the lead heading.
  • Narrower terms Used headings which are narrower or more specific that, the lead heading.
  • Related terms Used headings which are associated with the lead heading in some way other than hierarchically.
  • Notes May provide:
    • a definition on the usage and scope of the heading;
    • instructions on how the heading can be used; and/or
    • instruction on devising more specific headings.

Record for the heading Legislation, with notes and references

Subject Authorities of SCISSHL

 

In SCIS Data there are two sources of subject headings that cataloguers can use

  1. https://my.scisdata.com/standard – SCIS Subject Headings List (SCISSHL)
  2. https://my.scisdata.com/discover/thesaurus – SCIS search – Browse headings – Subject (Subject authority list)

SCISSHL is the tool that cataloguers use to add subject headings to a resource record. It provides instructions on devising further headings, as it would be impossible to make a list of all headings, including proper and common nouns headings that are needed for a general catalogue, for example the name of every order, class or species of animal.

Notes for the heading Animals

 

SCISSHL does not point end-users to actual resources. It is the core list of headings, also called the ‘standard’, that is used by cataloguers.When an end-user uses a subject advanced search, or a subject browse search in a public catalogue, the search funcaiotnliaty, uses what is known as the subject authority list to retrieve resources.

The SCIS subject authority list includes the ‘core’ SCISSHL headings as well as all the devised, or created headings, used in the SCISData database catalogue. The subject authority list in a schools’ library management system includes all the subject headings allocated to resources in the school library.  Ideally it also contains all the references (Used for, Broader, Narrower and Related terms), to allow the end user to navigate from one heading to other related headings, enhancing the effectiveness of a catalogue search.

The browse subject heading option in SCIS Data search searches all headings used in the SCIS Data subject authority list, the core headings from SCISSHL as well as devised headings.

For example:

A search for ‘Ice age’ in SCISSHL will only retrieve the core heading, as it is only searching the core headings

A search for ‘Ice age’ in Browse headings will retrieve the allowed devised headings as well, making it effective for the end-users, not just cataloguers.

Search results in subject browse for the phrase Ice age.Search results in SCISSHL for the phrase Ice age.

SCIS Authority Files

Maintaining accurate authority lists and references is time consuming as it includes devising new headings and adding cross-references between new headings and existing headings. To help with this, SCIS provides the option to subscribe to the SCIS authority files, which lists all core and devised headings used in the SCIS Data.

There are two options for downloading SCIS authority files found at https://my.scisdata.com/authorities:

  1. Reference only files. Only includes headings which have references (Used for, Broader, Narrower and Related terms).
  2. Full files. Includes all headings in SCIS data authority files, whether they have references or not.

How the headings and references are displayed to end-users depends on the library management system. In most cases only the heading and related references used in a school library database will be displayed for end-users. Cataloguing staff would see all the headings imported from SCIS Data. It is strongly suggested that library system vendors be consulted before importing the full authority files.

Updating and revising SCIS Subject Headings

SCISSHL is continually updated and revised. New headings are added, references structures reviewed, heading using out-dated terminology are updated. These are presented in the term 1 issues of Connections.

The SCIS Standards Committee is responsible for maintenance of the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry and for SCIS Subject Headings List. The Committee meets four times a year, considering working papers for new and revised headings after undertaking a thorough consultation process.

SCIS subscribers can recommend additions and changes to SCISSHL by emailing help@scisdata.com. Reasoning for the suggestion should be added. These suggestions will be reviewed by the SCIS Standards Committee.

Further resources

CASE STUDY: Belinda Doyle, Northmead CAPA High School NSW

By Belinda Doyle, Teacher Librarian at Northmead CAPA High School, NSW

About Belinda’s School

Northmead Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) High School focuses on and has a proven record of success not only in the creative and performing arts but also in academic, vocational and sporting endeavours. Our school students are drawn from both our local community and the wider community. Many of our students come from non-English speaking background and some are refugees. The school prides itself as a place where all students are welcomed, where strengths are recognised and nurtured and where differences are celebrated.

The school has a committed, dynamic teaching, administrative and executive staff with a range of experiences. The school has developed its Principles of Effective Teaching, which underpins all teaching practices. Teachers are passionate about their work and embody the school’s values. Our teachers strive to improve both their professional knowledge and their practice through their personal attributes, skills, and knowledge, to advance a sense of community and tolerance in all members of the school community to achieve excellence in learning.

The needs of our learners are met through a broad academic curriculum, strong vocational programs, and high-quality creative and performing arts programs in Visual Arts, Dance, Drama and Music School programs are complemented by a wide range of extra-curricular programs. There is a strong focus on collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and innovation, both in teaching and learning. Leadership is actively developed for the students, teaching staff and the community through targeted training and professional learning and specific pathways. Student leadership is developed in sport, creative and performing arts, multiculturalism, school service and the community.

Support for the school is strong in the local community. Many students undertake authentic learning in the community through vocational and education programs (VET) or through access to specific careers education opportunities.” Our school population consists of 1094 students and a staff of 139 teachers.

How Belinda Uses SCIS

As the Teacher Librarian in this vibrant setting which consists of a diverse school community, I focus on supporting many subjects across a range of classes which includes extension classes, GAT classes, mixed ability classes, and learning and support classes.  I aim to resource a differentiated curriculum, and this is where SCIS continues to play a role that offers peer -reviewed resources and resources that are suitable to support the NSW education curriculum. Due to our unusual circumstances relating to COVID-19 lockdowns, there has been the need to rely more on online resources to provide for our online school population.

In the past, I have relied on professional databases and professional library journals to search and review suitable websites for our school library. I have moved toward increased online professional development to further support online resources for a diverse curriculum. It is in this context that SCIS is proving to be invaluable in providing online resources which embrace ebooks and websites to support subjects that may need more resources.

As part of this process, I refer to the NESA syllabus subject documents to locate search terms or topics where there need to be more resources to be added to our collection. It is useful to have previewed and purchased an online recording from SCIS about how to enhance our collection. This recording has provided me with a broadened capability to search for resources not only in the “basic” search function but also in the “Advanced” search function. Another feature of SCIS is that it allows our online collection to be dynamic and it catalogues resources that align with syllabus changes and the diverse community of users in a comprehensive high school setting.

SCIS NOTE: Belinda viewed our 15-minute Video tutorial 4 free digital collections to import to your catalogue, which is currently available for on-demand download and viewing on our website.

Hidden gems (free stuff!) on the internet for library staff

By Ceinwen Jones, SCIS Cataloguer and librarian

Have you ever thought “where can I find a resource for teaching?”, then started from scratch, reinvented the wheel and later found something on the internet that would have been perfect? Sometimes there are some great things out there that we’ve forgotten about or that have just gotten lost in the noise.

We’ve put together a small list of things that might be helpful – and we’d love you to continue the discussion in the comments with resources and pages you’ve found useful yourself in your library and internet

Collection Development

The Little Bookroom – https://www.littlebookroom.com.au/

The Little Bookroom is a children’s bookshop in Melbourne and they’ve created a thriving and dynamic reading community, offering resources, events and advice for children, families and libraries to identify and choose books suited to their needs. Their website is a great resource because it has book lists and articles which give information and recommendations about topics that sometimes can be difficult to identify appropriate resources for, like:

  • Books for reluctant readers
  • Books with neurodiverse characters
  • Books for advanced younger readers
  • Books about consent, boundaries and respectful relationships
  • Books about families and rainbow families
  • Books about First Nations and People of Colour

…among many others. The Little Bookroom also has a newsletter for teachers and librarians. You can subscribe to hear about current events and contemporary topics in children’s literature.

Cataloguing

Trove https://trove.nla.gov.au/

This one is so useful in a library administrative sense, if you want to know more about how other libraries are classifying books (checking on a dewey number etc) or if you’re searching for a resource and you want to know which libraries have it. Then, of course, it has digitised newspapers, archived websites and some maps and images can be viewed online. It’s literally a treasure trove of information!

Curriculum support and teaching ideas

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com.au/

Is this one even hidden? But it’s sometimes forgotten, so we’ve included it here. You’ll never have to make a library orientation scavenger hunt checklist, set up a makerspace or make a poster about how to care for library books from scratch ever again if you use Pinterest for ideas! Just go to Pinterest and search something like “resources for school libraries” or you can be more specific if you want book lists, printables, lesson plans or games. There are so many free resources out there, it’s outrageous!

#loveozya https://loveozya.com.au/

This one has lots of interactions and interviews with YA authors, and is a great way to stay up to date with news, events and trends in Australian Young Adult literature – a great resource both for teaching and for collection development.

The State Libraries

So. Many. Resources.

Sure, Trove is the National Library of Australia, but the State Libraries and the National Library of New Zealand have so much specifically for families, students and teachers…

State Library of Victoria https://www.slv.vic.gov.au/

Highlights: ergo, which has study and lesson support for teachers and students alike http://ergo.slv.vic.gov.au/

 

State Library of NSW https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/

Highlights: Support and activities for learning at home https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/learning/learning-home

 

State library of QLD https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/

Highlights:

Online collections particular to Queensland https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/research-collections/queensland

Curriculum Connect, free, teacher-reviewed learning resources https://curriculumconnect.slq.qld.gov.au/

 

State Library of WA https://slwa.wa.gov.au/

Highlights: https://www.better-beginnings.com.au/ free resources which support parents to help their children learn to read. Great if you have an in-library reading or literacy support program.

 

State Library of NT https://lant.nt.gov.au/

Highlights: https://lant.nt.gov.au/explore-nt-history which has documents about the history of the NT including historical indigenous word lists (as compiled by white settlers).

 

State Library of Tas https://libraries.tas.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx

This site connects all of the Tasmanian libraries, so it’s like a hub of resources and events and activities for the whole state.

Highlights: https://libraries.tas.gov.au/kids/Pages/default.aspx resources including lists of websites for research and fun for parents and children – did someone say “extension activity”?

 

National Library of NZ https://natlib.govt.nz/

Highlights: https://natlib.govt.nz/schools which contains lots of resources for schools and students, including epic readers and topic explorers, professional development and a blog with current news and insights.

Australian Cenre for the Moving Image https://www.acmi.net.au/education/

The website for ACMI has heaps of free learning resources and lessons for teachers and students on their “Schools and Teachers” page, and they’re here to support you not only through onsite incursions but virtually as well – take a look, especially if you’re interested in gamification in the classroom, as there’s a fantastic Game Lessons library that’s just been launched. Amazing!

Social Media

#Booktok on https://www.tiktok.com/ and #Bookstagram on https://www.instagram.com/

My own kids prefer to get their reading recommendations from #booktok than from me – check it out to see what teens are reading and recommending, and what they’re talking about. If you want to focus on inclusivity and diversity in your library acquisitions, this is a great place to start. See the article from SCIS Connections Magazine issue 115, “Tiktok and Libraries: a powerful connection” for more information about Librarians on Tiktok.

The #Bookstagram hashtag will show you similar content, but on Instagram. Highlights include the accounts @booksfordiversity and @helpingkidsrise for diverse and uplifting content and @laneysbookcorner and @brookes.bookstagram for great Australian content.

These librarians and readers will inspire you and your students, presenting information about what librarians do and can do, as well as book recommendations, and generally promoting books, libraries and reading in a relatable way. They may also inspire you to start your own Tiktok – and there are plenty of “how-to” guides for this on the internet, including one by Kelsey Bogan herself.

Librarian professional development

The SCIS Blog https://scis.edublogs.org/

I know you’re already here, but really, it’s great, stay and have a look around! And it’s professional reading, if you need more hours for your Professional Learning…some highlights include:

  • Consistency matters”, an article about SCIS cataloguing, records and Standards
  • Our Case Studies, in which individual schools talk about how they use SCIS, and about their libraries in general – great for ideas for your own libraries
  • Articles about libraries and technology, including Improving education through linked technology, which is about integrating Storybox library with existing platforms in your school.
  • Our short course Managing your library collection and catalogue which is a fantastic free short course you can do any time – it has something for everybody from those new to the library, to those experienced in cataloguing.

…and there’s much more – you can use the search box on the left-hand side to look up any topic you’re interested in.

Go ahead! Subscribe!

 

 

 

 

Consistency Matters

This article is an updated version of an article published in Connections Issue 108 in 2019, as there have been recent changes to SCIS cataloguing standards.

The SCIS database is well known for its high-quality catalogue records. We sometimes receive queries from SCIS subscribers about inconsistencies in our records. However, these are often the result of standards changes that have occurred over SCIS’s lifetime. This article highlights some changes that have affected SCIS records, and other factors that may contribute to inconsistency in some records.

Cataloguing rules for resource description have changed

The earliest SCIS records were created in the 1980s, when we used AACR2 (Anglo-American cataloguing rules) to create our records. Over the years, AACR2 changed and we amended our processes with it. In 2013, SCIS implemented international standard, RDA (Resource Description and Access), which created many new changes in records. These include the following:

  • There is no longer a rule of three. If there are more than three authors, the first named person is given main entry. In AACR2, this would have been title main entry. SCIS applies the RDA option to name only the first person,
    or corporate body in the statement of responsibility if there are more than three, and to spell out the number of the others; for example, ‘Susan Jones [and four others]’.
  • There are no more abbreviations, unless they appear on the work itself. For example, the edition statement will vary according to how it appears on the item, such as ‘Second edition’ or ‘2nd edition’.
  • GMD (General Material Designation) is no longer in use. This has been replaced by three new RDA MARC fields — 336, 337 and 338 — for information on content, media and carrier. Using these three RDA fields, SCIS has developed a ‘Resource type’ vocabulary to help our subscribers easily identify the resource type for each record.
  • The 260 MARC field is no longer used for publication data. It has been replaced by MARC field 264, which makes a distinction between the functions of publication, distribution, manufacture, and copyright. Most SCIS records record publication details; for example, Sydney, NSW: HarperCollins Publishers, 2013.
  • Square brackets are only used in RDA when information is not found on the item in hand. For example, The Girl and the Ghost, published by the author Ebony McKenna has no place of publication to be found on the resource itself. The place of publication is recorded as [Melbourne, Victoria], as information taken from Amazon shows that the author lives in Melbourne.

The implementation of diacritics

From January 2018, SCIS has applied diacritical marks in subject, name and series authorities. Diacritics have not been applied for SCIS records in the past, for example for Māori terms, as some library software could not display them. However, this is no longer an issue for vendors.

Changes in SCIS standards

SCIS standards are continuously reviewed and updated in order to meet customer demands as well as internal cataloguing needs. Where possible, we do run processes to apply these revisions to older catalogue records. However, we are not always in a position to make amendments to works that were catalogued before the standards were revised. Some examples follow.

  • Fictional works in rhyme, such as those by Dr Seuss, are no longer classified as poetry and their subject headings are no longer given Poetry subdivisions. They are now classified as F for Fiction, with the Fiction subdivision being used, and the additional genre heading ‘Stories in rhyme’.
  • Series sequential numbering terms such as Bk., Book, No., Number, Pt., Part, Vol., Volume and Issue are no longer included in the series heading, MARC field 830. RDA requires us to copy information from the book in hand exactly, although this can lead to inconsistencies in series filing. For example, what might be Bk. 1 in one country becomes Vol. 1 in another. In order to remove these inconsistencies, SCIS revised its cataloguing standards in May 2018 to simply record the series number and not record the designation (book, volume, etc.). An exception to this policy is to use the term ‘episode’ with numbering of television series.

Publisher inconsistencies

SCIS adheres to RDA, which states that cataloguers need to record data from the resource, as it appears. This can lead, in some cases, to inconsistencies due to the way information is recorded on each particular item. For example, differing terms are used among publishers for the place of publication, for example NSW, N.S.W. or New South Wales. Because the RDA instruction is to record data from the resource itself, as it appears, publisher names and places of publication cannot be standardised.

Another common issue is the use of duplicate ISBNs. Sometimes publishers will give the same ISBNs to multiple titles they have published. RDA requires us to record this information as is.

Series inconsistencies

Items in a series present special problems to cataloguers, often because of decisions made by publishers. Some examples follow.

  • Changes in the series title when published in another country: For example, the series ‘The Saga of Darren Shan’, first published in the UK, is known in the US as ‘Cirque du Freak’.
  • Classification: In general, all books in a series should have the same type of classification — either fiction or non-fiction. However, the content of the item is the most important part of determining the classification so there have been rare occasions when this has not happened (for example, a series on countries having a mixture of history and geography numbers). These records with inconsistent classifications are being amended as we become aware of them.
  • Subject heading inconsistencies in fiction series: Although most fiction series have the same characters and common themes, the content of the item will determine the subject headings. For example, the series Pippa’s Island has additional subject headings, as well as the same headings such as ‘Islands–Fiction’ and ‘School stories’. The second book, Cub Reporters, has the headings ‘Reporters and reporting–Fiction’, ‘Journalists’ and ‘School publications’, whereas Book 4, Camp Castaway, has the headings ‘Outdoor education’ and ‘School campsites’.
  • Differing sequences for subseries, especially in reading sets; for example, a variety of sequences for levels, colours, and numbering: These differing sequences make it difficult for users searching series titles. Again, since RDA requires us to transcribe the item as is, we must copy the information as the publisher presents it in the series statement, MARC field 490.
  • Where possible, we are standardising the series headings, MARC field 830, for users’ benefit. In 2018 SCIS introduced series authority files to address these publisher inconsistencies in series titles. We are undertaking retrospective authorising to series headings allocated in the past 10 years.

Changes to subject headings

To meet users’ needs, SCIS cataloguers are constantly revising subject headings and establishing new ones for terms in common usage; for example, ‘Cyberbullying’, and new curriculum terms such as ‘STEM education’. However, early works on these topics may not have the most specific subject headings because they had not been established at the time.

Classification inconsistencies

It sometimes appears that resources with similar content have different, or inconsistent, DDC numbers. However, there are reasons for this:

  • Classification varies according to the content of the item: For example, general works on the incidence of COVID-19 (614.592414) and medical works on COVID-19 (616.2414), have different content so will have different Dewey numbers.
  • There are also differences in classification due to updates of DDC: For example, in DDC edition 22, graphic arts were classed in 760 (Printmaking and prints), but are now, in DDC edition 23, classed in 740 (Graphic arts and decorative arts).
  • Differences occur due to cataloguer interpretation: For example, a book about trees and flowers could be classed under Trees, 582.16 — or Flowers, 582.13 — depending on how much of the content is, in the cataloguer’s opinion, about trees or flowers.

Prepublication and catalogue request items

With an increasing amount of SCIS records being produced from information sourced from online cataloguing requests and publishers’ websites, there may be differences between the information given in the SCIS record and that found in the actual resource. Cataloguers create the best possible record based on the data presented to them. This is why we prefer to catalogue from the item in hand and, where this is not possible, request scanned images of the publisher information pages, title page, etc. If that information is not given, we must wait until we receive the item at one of our offices to update the record and confirm that everything is correct.

Consistency matters

We run regular quality assurance tests to help us identify and correct any inconsistencies in records. To help us maintain the high quality of our records, we would appreciate it if you would let us know any errors or inconsistencies that fall outside the areas mentioned above. Please contact us at help@scisdata.com

By Mavis Heffernan, SCIS cataloguer

Awards help select resources for your school

Finding the best learning resources for your school is a task that requires a complex range of skills and connections with various and specific stakeholders. Teacher librarians have these skills and work hard to pair the right learning materials for their teachers and students.

The Educational Publishing Awards of Australia can be a great way to connect with the latest trends and innovative offerings from Australian publishers, who collectively produce roughly 2000 new titles per year. The Awards, known as the EPAAs (said Eeepars), are built on the principles of education research and innovation, and showcase the titles launched to the education market in the previous year.

An important aspect of the EPAAs, which relies on the participation of teacher librarians, is the Publisher of the Year survey. The survey collects valuable information about publishers’ product quality, field services, company services, marketing and innovation. Data is analysed and the publisher voted as “the best” is celebrated at the Awards ceremony. This information is used to improve the industry for the benefit of teachers and students.

One teacher librarian who has followed the EPAAs for a long time and completes the survey each year is Tasmanian based, Dr Jillian Abell. Dr Abell says she uses the Awards as a way to get a good overview of current new resources.

“The EPAAs are invaluable to teachers in their selection and evaluation of recommended resources,” Abell says. “In addition, as a teacher librarian, I followed the Awards to learn more about reputable trends in educational publishing for each of the disciplines/key learning areas and age-appropriate learning materials. I would purchase as many as I could, and certainly disseminate the information to staff.  For example, it is always a trusted way to get an overview of new resourcing, such as peer-reviewed materials to support First Nations.”

Understanding what a teacher librarian does is helpful for Australian publishers. Dr Abell explains, “Teacher librarians develop extensive cross-curriculum knowledge and expertise for the skilful selection and evaluation of resources to be purchased across all educational levels and areas of learning support. They are experienced with identifying reputable and new works of interest through authors’ reviews, editors’ notes and Australian publishers’ blurbs. They understand the market trends, publication costs and quality of the digital or multi-modal resources. They can predict how a resource might be used by teachers and students and the wider school community.”

On the relationships between educators and publishers: “The collaboration and valued connections are well-developed over time through publishers’ generosity in showcasing and invitations to educators to be part of an awards process. After all, this process is an important part of teachers and teacher librarians meeting many of their Australian professional teaching standards (AITSL) and engaging with each other to select and use appropriate resources and participate in professional learning networks,” Dr Abell says.

2020 was certainly a disruptive year for the education sector, but while educational publishers responded to the pandemic by opening up access to resources to transition learning online, new resources were also finalised and made available.

The Educational Publisher Awards of Australia 2021 will showcase these resources from 2020.

The EPAA event will be held on 9 September 2021.

The Publisher of the Year survey, where book prizes are on offer, will open in late May.

Dr Jillian Abell AALIA, FACE, FACEL is President, Network of Educational Associations of Tasmania (NEAT); Director, Australian Professional Teaching Association (APTA); Chair, Tasmania Branch of the Australian College of Educators (ACE).

Educational Publisher Awards of Australia logo

 

Find out more about the awards here.

Sign up for updates here.

The healing power of picture books

In the latest SCIS Publisher Spotlight, Anouska Jones, Publisher at EK Books, explores the healing power of picture books.

Book: Go Away worry monster

At EK Books, our motto is “Books with heart on issues that matter”. Our goal is to create picture books that will not only entertain but also equip our readers with tools to navigate modern life.

Primarily aimed at the 4 to 8 year age group, our list includes books on everything from coping with the loss of a pet (Saying Goodbye to Barkley) to dealing with anxiety (Go Away, Worry Monster!). We sometimes deal with tough subjects, so our books are often written and illustrated by passionate children’s book creators who have another professional life as a counsellor, psychologist, teacher or art therapist. They know first-hand how quickly a child can shut down if they feel they are being analysed or assessed. They realise that picture books can be a way to open the door of communication, spark conversation and facilitate healing.

Showing young readers that they are not alone

By reading a story about another child going through the same experience as them, young children realise that they are not alone. Other kids have felt sad or struggled to make friends. Other kids have lost a parent or have a grandparent with dementia. Other kids have worried about starting school or trying something new. And if those children (or characters in the book) have made it through the experience, then so can our young reader.

Paul Russell is one of EK’s authors and a primary school teacher. He is dyslexic and struggled hugely at school, always feeling like he was “the dumb one” until one teacher changed his life. This lived experience inspired him to write My Storee, about a boy who loves to write but who loses his creative spark when all the teachers seem to see are his spelling mistakes. It’s a fun-filled story with glorious illustrations and it’s seen Paul receive letter after letter from dyslexic children who feel heard in his story.

Opening the door to tough conversations

Picture books are also a way to gently explore subjects that might otherwise be too difficult for a child to speak up about. At the End of Holyrood Lane won the 2019 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for Book of the Year in Australia and New Zealand, for its portrayal of domestic violence. The violence within the family is only depicted through the metaphor of a storm from which the girl runs and hides. One day she seeks shelter instead, depicted as a person holding a protective umbrella, and from then on the storms don’t rage over her anymore.

Interestingly, children with no experience of domestic violence often don’t see the shadowy face in the storm clouds. They interpret the book as a straightforward story about a girl’s fear of storms. But for those children who do know what it’s like to live in a violent home, the book helps them to start the conversation with a trusted adult.

Providing everyday comfort and building emotional resilience

Healing doesn’t always need to be on such a large scale. Sometimes the simple act of settling down with a picture book can help to calm a child after a stressful day. As they become absorbed in the rhythm of the words and the detail in the illustrations, the child’s breathing regulates and emotions are soothed. Reading a picture book together is also a gentle way for a parent or teacher to reconnect with a child after an emotional upset.

Finally, picture books play a vital role in developing a child’s visual literacy, helping them to recognise and understand emotions, and building empathy. And empathy, in turn, is linked with improved resilience, which is a cornerstone for good mental health.

About the author

Anouska Jones Anouska Jones is the Publisher at EK Books, the children’s picture book imprint of Exisle Publishing. Launched in 2013, this boutique imprint is home to several award-winning titles and best-selling books, and was nominated for Best Children’s Publisher of the Year, Oceania region, at Bologna Book Fair in 2019.

Instagram: @ekbooksforkids
Twitter: @EK_Books
Facebook: EK Books

ASLA Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year 2021. Congratulations to Anne Girolami!

ASLA Logo

 

Congratulations to Anne Girolami
Learning Leader – Information Services
Mercy College, Coburg, Victoria

The winner of the ASLA Australian Teacher Librarian of the Year 2021 was announced on 13 April 2021 at the ASLA/SLASA National Conference by Kerry Pope, ASLA Vice President and presented by Caroline Hartley, SCIS Manager. The Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) is the proud sponsor of this prestigious Award. This National Award recognises and honours an Australian Teacher Librarian who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession of school librarianship. Through their high level of achievement in professional knowledge, professional practice and professional engagement they have had a positive impact on teaching and learning in their school.

Principals, professional colleagues and members of the school community were encouraged to nominate their Teacher Librarian for this award. This year there were 7 nominations from across Australia for this award. All nominations received were of an extremely high standard.

The ASLA Board and Members congratulate Anne, on this significant achievement and thank her for her outstanding contribution to our profession.  Anne’s passion for school libraries and Teacher Librarians has been a driving force in her career and she has devoted many hours to this cause. She has over 30 years of experience as a Teacher Librarian in School Libraries and loves sharing her knowledge and expertise with colleagues.

Anne Girolami

Anne’s work at Mercy College has been exceptional. Anne is a key member of the Curriculum and Pedagogy Team and meets regularly with her School Leaders. She works enthusiastically with the Library Team to deliver services and programs that are at the heart of learning and teaching and that are adhering to best practice in library standards. She continually shares her love of reading and literature with her students. Anne works hard with staff to analyse data and identify student needs. She works closely with teachers and support staff to build their capacity to prepare students for life-long learning. Anne is highly respected and valued by her Principal, the students, staff, parents and members of her school community.

Anne has made a significant contribution to ASLA over many years, as an active and committed member. She has served as an ASLA Board Director, presented at ASLA Conferences, reviewed policies and reported at ASLA Annual General Meetings.

Anne has led a number of joint working parties with ASLA and ALIA, responsible for reviewing and writing National Policies for Teacher Librarians. Anne was Chair of the ASLA Policy and Advisory Project Team (PAPT) to produce Evidence Guides for Teacher Librarians in the areas of Proficient and Highly Accomplished Accreditation to support AITSL’s Professional Standards for Teachers. These documents have proved to be invaluable and are referred to constantly by Teacher Librarians undertaking accreditation today. In 2019 – 2020, Anne chaired the team reviewing and updating Table 6 in the combined ASLA/ALIA publication ‘Learning For The Future’. Recommendations of minimum information services staffing were thoroughly researched and documented.

With Anne’s calm, intelligent and thoughtful leadership approach, these Working Parties progressed diligently and consistently with the task at hand, resulting in the production of current, relevant and outstanding documents for Australian Teacher Librarians.

Anne is to be highly commended for her extraordinary and exemplary work in advocacy. She has been a Fellow of ALIA since 2020 and is a long-term convenor of ALIA Schools, working hard for the promotion and development of school libraries in Australia. She is an active member of the School Library Coalition and the FAIR Great School Libraries Campaign. Anne Girolami is an extremely worthy recipient of this Award for 2021.

Improving education through linked technology

In the latest SCIS Publisher Spotlight, Story Box Library explores innovating reading and learning with stories.

Digital learning is complementing traditional teaching methods with innovations. While classroom time is key in children’s development and learning, platforms like Story Box Library (SBL) bring stories to student’s fingertips.

Designed to be used by educators across a variety of ages and curriculum requirements, Story Box Library’s growing collection of stories and resources bring engaging learning options to any classroom.

Two children reading happily

Story Box Library’s Education Specialist Jackie Small says, “Story Box Library’s unique format of traditional storytelling presented digitally with the inclusion of support features provides educators with essential multimodal texts that convey meaning through written, spoken, visual, audio and gestural languages.”

“Resources such as SBL are essential because they meet a need for a society that has become increasingly multi-modal.”

Partnering with educators to enhance education

Saving time for educators, subscribing schools can now search SCIS to find stories from the entire Story Box Library (SBL) collection. This means all SBL titles, including storyteller images, can be downloaded and incorporated into school systems.

Along with MARC records and the corresponding ISBN numbers, SBL collections seamlessly integrate into school cataloguing systems. The SBL digital resource is now even easier to access for educators and students in Australia.

In keeping up with technological demand and developments of our changing world, SBL offers a complementary learning opportunity for educators and schools. Enhancing classroom learning and saving teachers time, teachers can engage students in a lifelong love of learning, reading and inspire curiosity, creativity and play.

Stories connect us to the rest of the world. While students discover stories in a safe, online space, their reading and literacy skills improve. Stories help children and young minds not only establish language and literacy skills but also create frameworks of the wider world, their community, friends, family, and their identity.

“Stories are thoughtfully curated based on thematic and literary value,” says Jackie.

“This makes them perfect springboards into a wonderful world of discovery and learning both in English and other key learning areas.’

Innovative classroom tools for all educators

Story Box Library’s additional expert-designed classroom resources help teachers save time in the classroom, assist in class preparation, and align with the Australian Curriculum. Designed to be used alongside story reads, and adapted seamlessly to any educator’s specific needs, SBL’s education resources make learning fun. Built-in features like playlist and search filter functions allow educators to find and save stories according to themes, topics, or their own personalised requirements.

“I like to think of our additional resources as creative seeds for educators,” Jackie says.

“They provide them with diverse and engaging ideas that provide children with opportunities to listen to, view, speak, write, create, reflect and compare texts within our library while also developing other skills such as metacognition, social skills, and critical and creative thinking.”

Based on unique themes, story structures and language features of each story, Classroom Ideas are flexible, adaptable and easily accessible for any Educator’s specific needs. Downloadable PDFs feature practical discussion questions and activity ideas aligned with curriculum areas. Stories also come with Student Task Sheets, which are grouped by themes and designed to be used independently by students. Students are provided with three task options towards meeting achievement standards via downloadable PDFs.

Recently released, SBL’s new Graphic Organisers and Thinking Tools assist students into becoming critical readers, designed to provide opportunities for deeper learning. With more in development, the first release of resources includes a Y-Chart, Character Profile, Story Map, Plot Summary, List Template, T-Chart, Venn Diagram, Menu Planner, Recipe Planner and an Interview Planner.

Connected to a world of stories

With one login, the entire school community of teachers, students and their families access to a world of diverse, high-quality stories. SBL is safe, secure and trusted by educators around the globe, and helps create curious and understanding young minds.

Story Box Library is working with partners like SCIS to inspire young minds, assist educators, and encourage a lifelong love of reading and learning.

For more information on Story Box Library, and to enquire about a school subscription, visit the Story Box Library website.

Story Box Library is a subscription based educational website, created for children to view stories by local authors and illustrators, being read aloud by engaging storytellers. With a world of stories and educational resources, it’s Storytime, Anytime!

www.storyboxlibrary.com.au| @storyboxlibrary | Story Box Library

SCIS Data case study: Kathryn Harris, Pymble Public School, NSW, Australia

 

‘My job is to help the teachers with their teaching and the children with their learning. I do that in whatever way I can.’

School: Pymble Public School
Type: Primary K-6
Enrolment: 600+
Cataloguing subscription: SCIS Data + Authority Files
Library management system: Oliver Library Software
Size of collection: 18,000

The teacher librarian’s role

Kathryn is the only trained teacher librarian in the school. She has help in the library from another teacher who teaches classes and assists with circulation but does not assist with management tasks. There is also clerical support one day per week.

Kathryn runs the library herself. She buys and manages resources and assists teachers where she can, such as by recording programs to meet curriculum needs. One of her roles is to provide support for classroom teachers to provide specialist information services and teaching programs.

‘I see my job is to help the teachers with their teaching and the children with their learning. I do that in whatever way I can.’

Library collection

Pymble Public School library

As a New South Wales government school, Kathryn’s library uses the Oliver library management system. She says that 15,000 items are standard library resources – books, posters, charts, big books, teacher reference materials. A further 3000 items, such as the computer software, the DVDs and the textbooks are in the school resources section – students can’t see these on the catalogue. Technology items, such as laptops, are not loaned through the library.

Kathryn and the English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) teacher worked together to create a collection of books in languages other than English. ‘We’ve got a Community language section which has the non-English books. These are books in some of the languages represented within our school community’.

Everything in the library is catalogued. Kathryn lends nothing that isn’t on the system, although she admits that she sometimes lends her stapler but says, ‘It’s out and back for the day!’

SCIS for over 30 years

Kathryn has been in school libraries for 30 years and has used SCIS in every one. When she first started, SCIS records were on microfiche. Kathryn found the support from SCIS particularly useful as a new teacher librarian. ‘I knew that my books would be in the right place because the books were being catalogued by proper cataloguers.’ Later to automate her small school library Kathryn used Rapid Retrospective, from SCIS, to import the record. ‘We just sent in the ISBNs and SCIS sent us the records. Straight into the computer.’

At another school, Kathryn had dial-up internet in the library. She used to get to school at 7:00 am, Sydney time, while other parts of Australia were still asleep, to do the SCIS orders. ‘SCIS was so much faster at 7:00 in the morning!’ Kathryn managed the process to add extra SCIS subject headings using the Authority File to suit her students. She really enjoyed this work and didn’t regret the early starts!

SCIS hit rate

The hit rate in SCIS Data is normally around 98 per cent, except for items like a Harry Potter book in Chinese, or another of their community languages, that hasn’t necessarily been catalogued. If a record is not available, Kathryn normally checks the following week, but also sometimes sends items in to SCIS to be catalogued.

Kathryn finds the people at SCIS to be incredibly helpful when there are issues. She especially enjoys the conversations she’s had with SCIS cataloguers who share her fascination with the process.

Kathryn says, ‘Our collection is all beautifully arranged, thanks to SCIS. Even if I don’t always agree with all SCIS standards I can easily adapt them for our collection.’

Using the catalogue

Students use the catalogue to find resources in the library. It can be difficult to teach them how to use the catalogue successfully as they only have half an hour library lessons once a week, and that includes borrowing time and a teaching program.

Students who want to spend time searching the catalogue have access at home and the opportunity to come in at lunchtimes or in the morning every day. Students can access curated lists of educationally focused websites via the library catalogue (curated by the Department, using SCIS Data).

The catalogue is a well-used by Pymble Public School students.

A great collection in a small space

Due to its small size the library is used as a dedicated, traditional library space, rather than as a common area for games, puzzles and computer games or other pursuits. It also houses the school computer server (Kathryn is the computer coordinator) and a teaching space. The teaching area includes a SMART Board and a document camera that Kathryn finds particularly useful.

Kathryn is justly proud of her library. ‘We have an absolutely stunning collection.’ There are sections for community languages and graphic novels with fiction and non-fiction areas. The library includes a senior section for years 5 and 6, and a junior fiction section. Sets of readers for history, geography, science and sets of novels, dictionaries and home readers also have their place in the library.

Kathryn has become an expert at managing the space she has to the best effect. She says, ‘Everything is where it is because that’s the only place it can possibly go.’

‘The service and data provided by SCIS allow me to deliver a well-catalogued collection with minimal expenditure of time and effort. SCIS frees me to do the more important work of a teacher librarian – support my staff and students.’

Hooked on NZ Books: a place for young readers to join the critical conversation

Pile of books

Melissa Wastney, Read NZ Te Pou Muramura,
introduces school libraries to Hooked on NZ Books He Ao Ano, an online platform and literary community for readers aged 12-19.

The looks hook people in, but the blurb brings it home (literally, I always leave bookshops with a lot of books.)

This book deserves all of the praise it receives; it is a beautifully told, undeniably raw, and extremely emotional read…

Once I had read this I was able to understand that although New Zealand claims to be diverse and accepting, racism affects our day to day lives, whether you are able to see it or not…

– Quotes from some recent Hooked on Books reviews.

At Read NZ Te Pou Muramura we want to encourage all of us to read more, and at the same time acknowledge the social aspects of literature; how books bring us closer to each other.

In the words of American writer Patricia Hampl, ‘’If nobody talks about books, if they are not discussed or somehow contended with, literature ceases to be a conversation, ceases to be dynamic. Most of all, it ceases to be intimate. Reviewing makes of reading a participant sport, not a spectator sport.’’

Building a community of readers who discuss books, and growing the next generation of critics is what Hooked on NZ Books He Ao Ano is all about.

Established four years ago by Peppercorn Press to complement their print journal NZ Review of Books, Hooked on Books is an online platform and literary community for readers aged 12-19.

Read NZ adopted the programme in 2020 and would love your help to find enthusiastic young readers to review the latest New Zealand books for us.

How does it work?

First, we match readers with new books: mostly novels, but also non-fiction, poetry and essays. Our reviewers live everywhere from Invercargill to Kaitaia.

We ask for the reviews to be emailed back within a month, and the reader gets to keep the book.

Our editor works with the reviewer to edit the piece so it’s the best it can be. This can sometimes involve a week of revisions and emails but is always an encouraging and supportive process.

We publish the final version of the review on the Hooked on NZ Books website, and share it with our wider community. The best review from each month is published on the official Read NZ website.

Read NZ CEO Juliet Blyth says the purpose of Hooked on NZ Books is to grow the audience for home-grown literature, to provide another space for young writers to be published and to nurture the next generation of critical readers in Aotearoa.

“Our reviewers have the opportunity to respond personally and critically to the latest reads while together building an online resource about NZ books and a genuine platform for their voice.

“Anyone can say that they loved or loathed a book, but it’s much harder to say why. Reviewing is important because well-argued reviews can influence what gets published and what gets read,” she says.

We at Read NZ would love your help to identify young readers and writers aged around 13 – 19 to participate.

We welcome enquiries from school librarians and teachers, but we’re also happy to work directly with young readers.

Interested reviewers can sign up on the Hooked on Books website, or contact Read NZ to get involved.

www.hookedonbooks.org.nz
www.read-nz.org

Hooked on NZ Books logo