Introducing SCIS Series Authorities

We are pleased to announce that SCIS Authority Files now include access to series authorities. This means that titles within a series can be grouped together consistently, and can encompass a number of potential series title variations.

Series authorities have been introduced to SCIS so that titles within a series can be grouped together consistently. (This consistent grouping is also true of the SCIS authority records for subjects and names.)

Series authority control aims to provide consistent treatment of and orderly, controlled access to titles in a series. So, one uniform and preferred series title is used to encompass a number of potential series title variations. For example, the series ‘Star wars. Clone wars’ is preferred to ‘Clone wars’ alone — and the series authority record provides instructions so that the user knows this.

This helps students when they’re looking at an OPAC to find items to read in the correct order, say, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It also helps staff members to make sure they have all the relevant titles, when ordering new titles within series. In addition, for staff cataloguers, it helps them to know that the right series name is provided — so that their users can read the series in the correct order (eg when cataloguing the series sequel to Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus). Depending on how a particular library is laid out, the series authorities may also assist with collocation concerns.

While series written by one author, such as The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins will naturally be found close together, those written by multiple authors such as the Batman graphic novels, may well be found in separate areas.

SCIS has series authority records for:

  • unnumbered series, which may feature a common character, but don’t necessarily need to be read in order (eg Goosebumps)
  • numbered series, which generally do need to be read in order (eg Harry Potter).

Series titles can be for either fiction or non-fiction. A non-fiction series example is Behind the Legend, about mythical creatures such as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

Series can at times be difficult to establish, as outlined in the article Let’s talk seriously about series. For example, series authority records cannot initially combat a situation where a novel initially slated as stand-alone only becomes a series after it proves to be successful.

For example, author of the Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon, notes that she wrote her first novel ‘for practice’, which means that the first published title (Outlander, also known as Cross Stitch) didn’t have any identifying series information at the time of its publication in the early 1990s.

The article Let’s talk seriously about series also outlines how publisher series statements on books can differ according to each publisher. At SCIS, we hope that the implementation of series authorities will reduce the issues caused by such discrepancies.

SCIS can be guided by the Library of Congress for series creation, but we generally use the series titles most often appearing on recent works within a series, and a simplified version of the Library of Congress series.

The beauty of authority files is that the development and establishment of the records has already been done, and all your library now need do is apply them.

The SCIS Series Authority File is now available to download. Download the files here, or read our help article, How to download Authority Files. Please note, a subscription to the SCIS Authority Files is required to download these files.

This first release of series of authorities includes series headings for works published from 2015 onward. Our cataloguers are continuing to work on older records, and these will be included in a later Authority Files release.

Doreen Sullivan
Quality control librarian, SCIS

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SCIS (Schools Catalogue Information Service) was created with the aim of providing schools with access to a database of consistent catalogue records created according to agreed national standards, in order to reduce the cost and duplication of effort of cataloguing resources in schools. Since its inception, SCIS has been responsible for improving the quality and consistency of cataloguing materials for schools.

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