2010 in stats

As we finish the 2010 school year in Australia and New Zealand, and with many libraries completing a stocktake, there may be some interest in statistics for annual reports.

SCIS has a feature in MyProfile that quickly counts the total records that a user has processed during the year.

Take a guess at how many catalogue records you think you have downloaded – then check out your library’s total.

SCISMyProfile500Go to the SCIS website
Click on My SCISWeb to login in
Go to MyProfile on the banner

From the main tab, click on
Records ordered this yearcheck here (may take a few moments to calculate)


SCIS Vital Statistics

So how has SCIS itself gone this year?

Thanks to our wonderful team of cataloguers, a total of 48,766 resources has been catalogued in 2010 (to 9 Dec)

7,866,341 catalogue records have been processed by SCIS users in 2010 (to 9 Dec) – an average of 151,276 records per week.
What a wealth of resources and literature supporting learning that represents through school libraries!

Would you care to celebrate and share some statistics from your school library’s activities in 2010?

Urgent Z39.50 access message

SCIS Z39.50 IP change Tuesday 23 Nov 2010

All SCIS Z39.50 subscribers should be using the host address name: z3950.scis.curriculum.edu.au as advised on the SCIS Z39.50 help page.

Today, Tuesday 23 November 2010, the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) is planning to turn off an old IP address (

For most SCIS Z39.50 subscribers this should have no impact at all, but for some systems it may require a change to router or firewall as outlined below.

If possible, please test your Z39.50 access to SCIS today to ensure it is working. If it is? Cheer and take no further action.

If you experience the ‘Failed to connect’ or other error message, please contact your library’s technical support in the first instance and provide them with the following router / firewall settings to allow an additional access list as follows:


Protocol: TCP
Port: 7090

In some cases the system may require a flush of the DNS to remove the old IP address.
Click on the Start button (bottom left of Windows computer)
‘Start’ -> ‘Run’ -> type the command ipconfig /flushdns (note the space between ipconfig and /)
and press <Enter>

If you have any questions about this process, or require further assistance at any stage, please contact the SCIS helpdesk
By email: scisinfo@esa.edu.au
By phone: 1800 337 405 (free call within Australia outside Melbourne)  or +61 3 9207 9600 or +61 8 8334 3209

SO WHAT IS Z39.50?

An introduction to Z39.50 is the subject of a separate blog post.


X, Y, Z of  Z39.50

Over 800 schools using SCIS are now set up to get their catalogue records via Z39.50. They are enjoying the seamless way that Z39.50 searching allows them to search remote databases such as SCIS for library records from within their Library Management System and import individual records directly into their library catalogue.

So what is Z39.50?

Z39.50 is an international standard for information retrieval described in ISO 23950 and ANSI/NISO Z39.50. This standard is a protocol for searching and retrieving information from remote databases, and is maintained by the Library of Congress.

Can I use Z39.50?

All schools that have a current SCISWeb subscription are able to use Z39.50 for retrieving catalogue records directly from SCIS to their Library Management System provided that system supports Z39.50, Z cataloguing or Rapid Entry as some systems call it. Check this with your Library system support person.

If you would like to try out this workflow for importing your catalogue records from SCIS, send an email to scisinfo@esa.edu.au and ask us to activate Z39.50 in your SCIS profile.

There are some settings to change in your library system. These are available from the SCIS Z39.50 help pages. Then follow the instructions provided by your library system.


For those already using Z39.50 please share your experience on how it has changed your cataloguing workflow for the benefit of schools just starting out. Let us know which library system you are using and any tips for new Z-cataloguers.

Future directions

Although many school libraries are relatively new to Z39.50, as Wikipedia points out Z39.50 is a pre-Web standard, originating in the 1970s. It has served the library world well since particularly in the area of consortium partnerships, interlibrary loans and shared cataloguing services. There is new work happening in this space and new formats for data which we will be watching with interest.


RDA changes from AACR2

During July and August 2010 SCIS cataloguers took advantage of the free trial period to preview Resource Description and Access (RDA), the new standard which is intended to replace the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2).

SCIS will make initial preparations for the implementation of RDA by activating new MARC fields in our Voyager library management system when we upgrade to Voyager version 7 during the latter part of 2010. This will allow us to produce test records created according to RDA rules and evaluate the likely impact for schools. We will of course be consulting with school library management system vendors to ensure that any changes to SCIS records are compatible with school library systems.

RDA changes likely to have the most impact on school library systems are the replacement of the GMD with three new MARC fields: 336 (Content type), 337 (Media type) and 338 (Carrier type). For example a DVD title coded according to AACR2 as:

245 00 |a Avatar |h [videorecording]

would be coded according to RDA as:

245 00 |a Avatar
336      |a two-dimensional moving image |2 rdacontent
337      |a video |2 rdamedia
338      |a videodisc |2 rdacarrier

Most of the other RDA changes can be readily accommodated in the MARC fields currently used by SCIS. These changes will impact on data consistency rather than systems. For example in RDA the abbreviations N.T. and O.T. are spelled out as New Testament and Old Testament, but omitted in headings for individual books of the Bible. Thus a heading such as Bible. N.T. Corinthians becomes simply Bible. Corinthians.

For more information, including links to key presentations and articles about RDA, see the Australian Committee on Cataloguing.

See and See Also what we have!

Visual representation of references
Visual representation of references

SCIS Authority Files (SCIS AF) have been updated with Edition 2 2010.

Once logged into SCISWeb at http://scis.curriculum.edu.au the Authority Files tab is available to open the SCIS AF page, if you have a current subscription. Several Education Departments (NSW, WA and SA) support their schools with access to SCIS AF.

SCIS AF are separate index files of authorised names and subjects used as access points in SCIS catalogue records, and are released twice a year as downloadable files ready for implementation in your library management system.

All SCIS catalogue records downloaded from SCISWeb contain authorised SCIS Subject Headings but no cross-references to other related terms to support user searching in the local OPAC. See and See also references between related terms are important for assisting the user to find resources on similar subjects.

New and Changed SCIS Subject Headings

The SCIS Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC) recently met for one of its regular teleconferences.  As part of normal teleconference proceedings, proposed changes to the SCIS Subject Headings were discussed and agreed upon.

The changes included 2 new subject headings, Non-government organisations and Case studies, as well as revisions to the reference structures of the terms Matter, Operas, Biology, Evolution and Variation (Biology).

A detailed list of the changes is available from the SCIS website, and if you are a SCISWeb subscriber you can of course review all the above headings and their reference structures in the SCISWeb OPAC, or in Subject Headings Online if you have a subscription to that (Note: you’ll need to login first).

For those of you who download the SCIS Authority Files for implementation of the Subject Headings in your own library system, the newly authorised headings and amended reference structures will be included in the August 2010 Authority File update.

RDA toolkit now live


Not only that, but the co-publishers of the toolkit (the American Library Association, Canadian Library Association, and CILIP) are offering a free open access period for you to take a look at the new standard.

SCIS will of course be undertaking testing of the toolkit during the open access period, and will also be monitoring the outcomes of the testing being undertaken by the Library of Congress and the National Library of Australia. Rest assured we will not be making any changes to the SCIS standards until we have fully confirmed that the new standard will be fully compatible with school library management systems!

A 60 minute webinar demonstrating some of the features of the toolkit can be viewed at: http://www.rdatoolkit.org/training/openaccesswebinar.

SCIS Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC)

Ever wondered how changes to the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry or SCIS Subject Headings are decided on? Both are the responsibility of the SCIS Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC), which is comprised of representatives from Education Services Australia, members of our agencies in the education departments of Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales, and representatives from the National Library of New Zealand. Members of the ISSC also contribute to the Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) discussion group.

The ISSC continually revises the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry and SCIS Subject Headings in order to ensure that they remain in keeping with international standards, whilst also ensuring that schools’ specialised needs are taken into account. Members of the ISSC draw on their experience in providing cataloguing and support services to school libraries and their links to curriculum experts within their organisations in order to provide informed discussion on the adoption of  new or modified headings, alterations to the cataloguing standards and other enhancements to the SCIS service.

The ISSC group conducts regular meetings throughout the year via teleconference, as well as utilising an edna group page which acts as an online forum for the exchange of discussion papers, regular updates and news.

If you have any questions about how SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry are implemented in SCIS bibliographic records, or wish to suggest a change to the SCIS Subject Headings we would love to hear from you.  Drop us a line at scisinfo@esa.edu.au – we’re here to help!

We’ve updated our Authority Files

The latest version of  SCIS Authority Files was made available via SCISWeb this week.

To update your SCIS Authority Files, you will need to log on to SCISWeb and then select the Authority Files tab from the navigation bar at the top of the page.  From there you will be able to download the new Name and Subject Authority Files, ready for uploading into your Library Management System.

For more information about SCIS Authority Files,  how to download them, and whether to select SCIS Full Authority Files or Reference only Authority Files, please see our Authority Files Help Page.

RDA Developments

For those of you interested in following the progress of the new RDA (Resource Description and Access) standard, the following update was recently posted on the RDA discussion list by Deirdre Kiorgaard, the representative of the Australian Committee on Cataloguing to the Joint Steering Committee for the development of RDA:

The RDA toolkit will be published in June 2010. … Over a period of 9 months after RDA is released, US libraries will be conducting testing of RDA.  Information about this testing is in the RDA FAQ http://www.rda-jsc.org/rdafaq.html#11 and also on the testing website http://www.loc.gov/bibliographic-future/rda/.

Implementation in Australian and overseas libraries is expected in mid 2011. Internationally, the National Library of Australia is working with the Library of Congress, British Library, and Library and Archives Canada  to develop implementation strategies and coordinate implementation dates. Within Australia,  the Australian Committee on Cataloguing is preparing a plan for  implementation and training.

You can join the RDA discussion list from the NLA’s email discussion lists page, or view our earlier post on RDA hereAnn Chapman has also published an excellent introduction to RDA in the information science journal, Ariadne, the full text of which is freely available at: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue49/chapman/.