SCIS Data case study: Ruth Maloney, Tonbridge Grammar School, UK

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

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

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

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

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

Finding the right catalogue records for schools

Prior to using SCIS, Ruth used z-cataloguing to access records from the British Library and Oxford University. ‘For the sort of material that we catalogue, their records just aren’t good enough,’ she says. Having previously catalogued at The Bodleian Library, Oxford, Ruth appreciates that their records are not intended to provide sufficient information for schools.

Ruth originally trialled SCIS in a bid to help SCIS broaden its UK publisher coverage. ‘When we saw what it could do, it was an easy decision for us. It’s not prohibitively expensive, and the benefit it gives us is huge. I just count it as part and parcel of the catalogue,’ says Ruth.

With SCIS, Ruth says that her cataloguing hit rate is now well over 85–90 per cent. ‘Just yesterday, I added 25 books and there were only three that weren’t on SCIS,’ Ruth notes. She is also grateful that her SCIS subscription allows her to enter cataloguing requests for the few items not yet in SCIS.

‘I always think we are buying weird and wonderful books, and then I look on your catalogue and notice there are all sorts of weird and wonderful things already in there that other schools are using. We are, in fact, filling in our collection with good books that every school library ought to have.’

Integration with their library system

The library catalogue at Tonbridge Grammar School is supported by Accessit software, with which SCIS Data integrates seamlessly. ‘SCIS sits in quietly behind our Accessit system, doing its thing,’ says Ruth.

Prior to Ruth’s time at Tonbridge, the school did not have a library management system. When Ruth moved to Accessit, she imported records using an Excel spreadsheet listing the school’s resources. ‘They were terrible records,’ she notes. But the retrospective cataloguing feature in Accessit, coupled with her SCIS subscription, has largely given her the resources to fix this. ‘I have gone through and SCISified as many records as I can, which has been really helpful. Because SCIS sits within my Accessit system, I don’t need to think about it, which is great,’ she adds.


Ruth also appreciates that her SCIS Data subscription saves time, allowing her to focus on running their busy library. ‘I couldn’t do the amount of other work or buying that I do if I had to work with the British Library records, because I would have to alter every record, which would take me huge amounts of time,’ Ruth notes.

SCIS uses keywords created specifically for use in schools, which means that she doesn’t need to alter them to suit the student audience. ‘The students perform a lot of searches by genre, so the keywords and subject headings in SCIS are vital’, she adds. ‘I know I am going to get consistently helpful keywords.’

Supports information literacy

The value their library brings to the school is in providing a ‘welcoming, comfortable and inviting space to encourage reading for pleasure,’ Ruth says. ‘As we are in an IB school, we also have a high emphasis on research skills and information literacy. It’s crucial to integrate the library catalogue into the curriculum to teach those skills and to prepare students for research in a digital environment.’ Ruth includes catalogue records for digital content so that all websites and useful links can be found and retrieved from the catalogue.

‘I am trying to integrate the catalogue more into their curriculum, so it becomes part of our students’ everyday environment. I am pulling online resources through into the catalogue with the support of SCIS records, so we don’t have any websites or links to useful resources anywhere else.

‘I want the students to experience what a library catalogue can do. It helps them understand how things like Google work, and what’s being pushed to them there as opposed to what they are freely choosing. Without the quality and depth of records that we get from SCIS, I would have to do that myself, and I don’t have time,’ she continues.

Ruth’s verdict

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

She adds: ‘It’s SCIS’s consistency and speed that I think is vital. I recommend it to other librarians.’

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Nicole is the Communications & Projects Coordinator at SCIS. She is the editor of Connections, and is interested in advocating for school libraries everywhere.

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