SCIS and your library collection

Ahead of our webinar on developing your library collection with SCIS, cataloguer Mavis Heffernan previews some of the ways you can use SCIS as a collection development tool. Register for the webinar today for in-depth advice on how to use the tools covered below.

A subscription to the SCIS database provides much more than bibliographic records for school libraries. With access to more than 1.6 million bibliographic records, the database is also a means of support for teachers, providing a valuable view of curriculum resources.

At present, there is an increasingly overwhelming number of print and digital curriculum resources available for teachers. However, due to their heavy workloads, teachers are finding that they do not have time, or the expertise, to find specific resources relevant to their needs. Because of this, it is becoming more important for teacher librarians to search and analyse content efficiently in order to support teachers and provide them with access to a wide range of resources. This is where access to the SCIS database can help.

When I was in a school library, I established a Current Awareness service for teachers, using information from what was then the Victorian Education Department’s Central Cataloguing service. This was done on a very small scale. I began by contacting teachers at the school, asking if they would like to have information about available resources for their curriculum planning. This information was accessed mainly from bibliographic records in the Central Cataloguing service. Teachers were notified monthly, using printed lists, and were then able to use the resources already in the school library or to request that additional resources be purchased.

Today, using the SCIS database makes a ‘Current Awareness’ service much easier, both for teacher librarians and teachers. For example, teachers could complete an online form, detailing their curriculum areas of interest, as well as other relevant information, such as resources for professional development. The teacher librarian, or other library staff, then do an advanced search of the SCIS database for bibliographic records of relevant recent resources. This search would include learning area, subject headings, year level, print and digital resources, as well as fiction and nonfiction resources. The summaries in the bibliographic records can also be very useful for resource selection.

In addition, URLs are included for websites and apps, so that staff can click through to a website or app from its catalogue record. Here are some examples of how SCIS records can be used in a Current Awareness service.

  1. The SCIS database, with its curated collection of more than 1.6 million bibliographic records, gives teachers and teacher librarians access to view resources to use for planning curriculum content, planning projects and professional development. For example, the ClickView digital video library features more than 13,500 videos; the Wheelers ePlatform has ebook and audiobook records, fiction and nonfiction, for Australian, New Zealand and UK schools at both primary and secondary level; and there are records from the National Library of New Zealand. There are also records, for secondary level, from Massolit.
  2. A wide range of records for teacher reference resources are available from the SCIS database. These resources are especially useful for teacher professional learning. There are also useful websites for supporting teachers. Some recent examples include: Responding to students’ trauma disclosures (; Music teacher resources (; and Educational resources about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures (ABC Education).There are also more than 900 apps available. Examples of recent apps include: Planboard: lesson planners for teachers (; TinyTap: kids’ learning games (; and Move ease (
  3. The SCIS database is also very useful for primary school teachers who wish to select class sets of reading materials. A search by the subject headings ‘Reading materials’ and ‘Levelled readers’, and by publisher, such as Sunshine Books and Decodable Readers Australia, will provide access to view a large range of up-to-date print and digital resources.
  4. The SCIS database can also be used as a buying tool or resource selection tool for teachers, as well as teacher librarians. When a search of the database is completed and a list of resources is produced, the teacher will then be able to request these resources to be purchased for use in the library or classroom, and can download the SCIS records for these resources in anticipation of their arrival.

By being proactive, initiating current awareness, and producing specifically curated lists from the SCIS database, school librarians can enhance the efficiency and impact of their collection development practices.

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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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