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 librarian (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.

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.

Supporting new and experienced librarians

Saving time for librarians

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that using time efficiently and having well-organised resources underpin a school librarian’s ability to support their community.

Resourcing can present a particular challenge to primary school librarians when managing their libraries. Robyn Byrne from Traralgon Primary School (Stockdale Road) explains how SCIS helps her overcome these challenges.

‘Unfortunately, many primary school libraries are now managed by a sole education support staff member, with no formal training and in a part-time capacity. My school is no exception, so I have benefited greatly from having a SCIS subscription.’

With standing orders, books received through a rewards program and purchases from local stores and booksellers, the school acquires a substantial number of new books.

‘Cataloguing of the books – with the limited hours the library is staffed and with my hit and miss knowledge of cataloguing – is only possible due to SCIS. It works with our library system, and I would say 99.5% of my requests are matched, ensuring those books are out on the shelves in a timely manner and catalogued in a consistent way,’ says Byrne.

Collection development and professional learning

Joumana Soufan from Lalor North Primary School moved to a position in her school library last year and recently started to explore SCIS. She’s found it helpful for cataloguing but has also enjoyed the collection development tools that SCIS provides.

‘I have been enjoying looking for new apps that maybe useful to use for the library. I recently discovered that the Canva app is free to all school staff, which is a big bonus! I have been busy creating posters and resources for upcoming events. I have also just become aware that there are heaps of free e-books, so I’ll be busy downloading some as soon as I get time.’

In addition to this, Joumana has been enjoying SCIS’s professional learning program.

‘I recently attended the workshop on making the most of SCIS,’ she says. ‘It was a very informative and really enjoyed it.’

SCIS community

SCIS provides school librarians with community through the Connections school library journal and its social media pages. Robyn Byrne has found this particularly beneficial.

‘I work alone in the school library so look forward to Connections, the SCIS publication, to keep me up-to-date with what is happening in other school libraries, get inspiration and information. Connections, the recent SCIS workshop I attended, and my local SLAV branch meetings are a great support network for me.’

Now serving school libraries across Australia and internationally for almost 40 years, SCIS is working hard to continue supporting librarians in a changing world, through quality cataloguing and cultivating a community of practice that helps librarians bring more to their schools. If you wish to know more about how SCIS can help your school library, email help@scisdata.com.

Library Lovers’ Day – a valentine to our school libraries

The 14th of February is Library Lovers’ Day, which is always a wonderful day of celebration in the annual calendar. This year, however, we think it’s of special significance. It’s been two long years of loving our libraries from afar much more than we’ve been able to love them up close and personal. That’s why this Library Lovers’ Day we thought we’d write a valentine to our school libraries, reflecting on the things we’ve missed about visiting them over these past two years of COVID life (sigh).

1. The promise

Whenever you walk into a school library you walk into a visible, palpable realm of future possibilities. Every book on the shelf is an adventure waiting to come alive in your hands, every hand-curated display is a chance to delve deeper into a genre or subject you love. There’s such a visceral, spiritual feeling of possibility when you walk through library doors, that’s unique to such a place of variety, depth, knowledge and wonder. This year we’ll aspire to savour it each time we walk into a library.

2. The innovation

A school library is – and always has been – a wonderful place to promote lateral thinking. Librarians are always thinking ‘outside of the box’ and running carefully considered events and activities covering the smallest, most ‘niche’ subjects you could imagine, as well as the biggest, boldest, world-changing ideas of today and the future.

3. Support for teachers

We’ve always felt that school libraries provide an essential support for classroom teachers at the coalface. Whether it’s providing and curating resources, helping them set up and understand new technology or simply helping rush through some last-minute photocopying, libraries are always there in times of teacher need.

4. A safe space for students

Growing up is fraught with challenges and the school environment can be difficult for students to navigate at times, for a host of reasons. The school library has always been a place where students can feel safe and supported. Whether it be by the warm and welcoming staff, by getting lost in a good book, or simply by having a quiet, serene place to go, the library is always there, giving us connection, culture, stories and sanctuary.

5. Librarians and students: a dynamite combo

The thing we’ve missed most of all about being in school libraries is the wonderful symbiosis between students and librarians. The nurturing, one-on-one support that students receive from librarians and the nourishing joy librarians feel as they see a student thrive and grow through a collection they’ve so carefully curated for such a purpose is truly magical.

Wherever you are in the world, take a moment today to reflect on what a library means to you. We hope you remember the special personal, significance that libraries have to you today. We also hope that as the world opens up again, we can all visit a library, carrying with us an invigorated respect and appreciation for the important role they play in our lives.

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.

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.