Consistency Matters

This article is an updated version of an article published in Connections Issue 108 in 2019, as there have been recent changes to SCIS cataloguing standards.

The SCIS database is well known for its high-quality catalogue records. We sometimes receive queries from SCIS subscribers about inconsistencies in our records. However, these are often the result of standards changes that have occurred over SCIS’s lifetime. This article highlights some changes that have affected SCIS records, and other factors that may contribute to inconsistency in some records.

Cataloguing rules for resource description have changed

The earliest SCIS records were created in the 1980s, when we used AACR2 (Anglo-American cataloguing rules) to create our records. Over the years, AACR2 changed and we amended our processes with it. In 2013, SCIS implemented international standard, RDA (Resource Description and Access), which created many new changes in records. These include the following:

  • There is no longer a rule of three. If there are more than three authors, the first named person is given main entry. In AACR2, this would have been title main entry. SCIS applies the RDA option to name only the first person,
    or corporate body in the statement of responsibility if there are more than three, and to spell out the number of the others; for example, ‘Susan Jones [and four others]’.
  • There are no more abbreviations, unless they appear on the work itself. For example, the edition statement will vary according to how it appears on the item, such as ‘Second edition’ or ‘2nd edition’.
  • GMD (General Material Designation) is no longer in use. This has been replaced by three new RDA MARC fields — 336, 337 and 338 — for information on content, media and carrier. Using these three RDA fields, SCIS has developed a ‘Resource type’ vocabulary to help our subscribers easily identify the resource type for each record.
  • The 260 MARC field is no longer used for publication data. It has been replaced by MARC field 264, which makes a distinction between the functions of publication, distribution, manufacture, and copyright. Most SCIS records record publication details; for example, Sydney, NSW: HarperCollins Publishers, 2013.
  • Square brackets are only used in RDA when information is not found on the item in hand. For example, The Girl and the Ghost, published by the author Ebony McKenna has no place of publication to be found on the resource itself. The place of publication is recorded as [Melbourne, Victoria], as information taken from Amazon shows that the author lives in Melbourne.

The implementation of diacritics

From January 2018, SCIS has applied diacritical marks in subject, name and series authorities. Diacritics have not been applied for SCIS records in the past, for example for Māori terms, as some library software could not display them. However, this is no longer an issue for vendors.

Changes in SCIS standards

SCIS standards are continuously reviewed and updated in order to meet customer demands as well as internal cataloguing needs. Where possible, we do run processes to apply these revisions to older catalogue records. However, we are not always in a position to make amendments to works that were catalogued before the standards were revised. Some examples follow.

  • Fictional works in rhyme, such as those by Dr Seuss, are no longer classified as poetry and their subject headings are no longer given Poetry subdivisions. They are now classified as F for Fiction, with the Fiction subdivision being used, and the additional genre heading ‘Stories in rhyme’.
  • Series sequential numbering terms such as Bk., Book, No., Number, Pt., Part, Vol., Volume and Issue are no longer included in the series heading, MARC field 830. RDA requires us to copy information from the book in hand exactly, although this can lead to inconsistencies in series filing. For example, what might be Bk. 1 in one country becomes Vol. 1 in another. In order to remove these inconsistencies, SCIS revised its cataloguing standards in May 2018 to simply record the series number and not record the designation (book, volume, etc.). An exception to this policy is to use the term ‘episode’ with numbering of television series.

Publisher inconsistencies

SCIS adheres to RDA, which states that cataloguers need to record data from the resource, as it appears. This can lead, in some cases, to inconsistencies due to the way information is recorded on each particular item. For example, differing terms are used among publishers for the place of publication, for example NSW, N.S.W. or New South Wales. Because the RDA instruction is to record data from the resource itself, as it appears, publisher names and places of publication cannot be standardised.

Another common issue is the use of duplicate ISBNs. Sometimes publishers will give the same ISBNs to multiple titles they have published. RDA requires us to record this information as is.

Series inconsistencies

Items in a series present special problems to cataloguers, often because of decisions made by publishers. Some examples follow.

  • Changes in the series title when published in another country: For example, the series ‘The Saga of Darren Shan’, first published in the UK, is known in the US as ‘Cirque du Freak’.
  • Classification: In general, all books in a series should have the same type of classification — either fiction or non-fiction. However, the content of the item is the most important part of determining the classification so there have been rare occasions when this has not happened (for example, a series on countries having a mixture of history and geography numbers). These records with inconsistent classifications are being amended as we become aware of them.
  • Subject heading inconsistencies in fiction series: Although most fiction series have the same characters and common themes, the content of the item will determine the subject headings. For example, the series Pippa’s Island has additional subject headings, as well as the same headings such as ‘Islands–Fiction’ and ‘School stories’. The second book, Cub Reporters, has the headings ‘Reporters and reporting–Fiction’, ‘Journalists’ and ‘School publications’, whereas Book 4, Camp Castaway, has the headings ‘Outdoor education’ and ‘School campsites’.
  • Differing sequences for subseries, especially in reading sets; for example, a variety of sequences for levels, colours, and numbering: These differing sequences make it difficult for users searching series titles. Again, since RDA requires us to transcribe the item as is, we must copy the information as the publisher presents it in the series statement, MARC field 490.
  • Where possible, we are standardising the series headings, MARC field 830, for users’ benefit. In 2018 SCIS introduced series authority files to address these publisher inconsistencies in series titles. We are undertaking retrospective authorising to series headings allocated in the past 10 years.

Changes to subject headings

To meet users’ needs, SCIS cataloguers are constantly revising subject headings and establishing new ones for terms in common usage; for example, ‘Cyberbullying’, and new curriculum terms such as ‘STEM education’. However, early works on these topics may not have the most specific subject headings because they had not been established at the time.

Classification inconsistencies

It sometimes appears that resources with similar content have different, or inconsistent, DDC numbers. However, there are reasons for this:

  • Classification varies according to the content of the item: For example, general works on the incidence of COVID-19 (614.592414) and medical works on COVID-19 (616.2414), have different content so will have different Dewey numbers.
  • There are also differences in classification due to updates of DDC: For example, in DDC edition 22, graphic arts were classed in 760 (Printmaking and prints), but are now, in DDC edition 23, classed in 740 (Graphic arts and decorative arts).
  • Differences occur due to cataloguer interpretation: For example, a book about trees and flowers could be classed under Trees, 582.16 — or Flowers, 582.13 — depending on how much of the content is, in the cataloguer’s opinion, about trees or flowers.

Prepublication and catalogue request items

With an increasing amount of SCIS records being produced from information sourced from online cataloguing requests and publishers’ websites, there may be differences between the information given in the SCIS record and that found in the actual resource. Cataloguers create the best possible record based on the data presented to them. This is why we prefer to catalogue from the item in hand and, where this is not possible, request scanned images of the publisher information pages, title page, etc. If that information is not given, we must wait until we receive the item at one of our offices to update the record and confirm that everything is correct.

Consistency matters

We run regular quality assurance tests to help us identify and correct any inconsistencies in records. To help us maintain the high quality of our records, we would appreciate it if you would let us know any errors or inconsistencies that fall outside the areas mentioned above. Please contact us at help@scisdata.com

By Mavis Heffernan, SCIS cataloguer

It’s now time to take stock

Written by Julie Styles, Cataloguing Librarian, SCIS

With the end of the year fast approaching, now is an excellent time to consider stocktaking your library collection. You may want to stocktake the whole collection at once or do the fiction this year and the non-fiction next year. It all depends on how much time you have available and how much labour you have at your disposal.

Advantages of stocktaking

In handling each resource, you learn a lot about what you have and have not in your collection.

It may be time to ‘weed’ out outdated or little-used material. The ever-changing subject areas of computer science, science and geography are always a good place to start.

Books in a poor state of repair may need to be repaired or replaced.

You are likely to find at least a few books that have been incorrectly shelved and missing for a long time.

Gaps in subject areas will be discovered. You may have nothing or very little on 3D printing. You may alternatively decide you have quite enough on ancient civilisations.

Due to popularity, you may decide to buy additional copies of some titles.

Best of all, your collection will be all organised and ready to start the next school year.

Colourful books stacked tightly
Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

How to go about doing a library stocktake

As always, we recommend that you speak to your library management software vendor for specific instructions on how to complete a stocktake.

Stocktaking and SCIS records

The SCIS catalogue, like every other library catalogue, is continually evolving. It reflects changing international standards in cataloguing and internal policy decisions. Many of these internal changes come as a result of your feedback and often enhance the usability of the catalogue. Usually, we implement changes from a certain date and do not worry about previous records. However, in some circumstances, it is considered necessary to change older records also. When this is the situation, in many cases, we can make ‘blanket’ or ‘global’ changes to our older records. As this is a big job, we usually concentrate our efforts on records created in the last ten years.

Changes that impact SCIS records

In 2015 we stopped treating stories with rhyming text as poetry, changing the Dewey number from the number for poetry to F for fiction. And the subject headings for all these titles now had Fiction as a subdivision instead of Poetry. The SCIS genre heading Stories in rhyme and the SCOT Verse stories was also added to the record. Global changes were made to records made in and after 2012.

Before 2018 series titles were recorded as presented on the item, resulting in inconsistencies across records. Selecting consistent and authorised series authorities, and updating records has been a significant project and work continues to ensure that older records are linked with the correct series term.

From January 2018, we started adding diacritical marks to name and series authorities. This particularly made a difference to names and titles in the Māori language. We continue to update older records to reflect these new authorities.

Series sequential numbering terms such as Bk., Book, No., Number, Pt, Part, Vol., Volume and Issue are no longer included in the series statement.

RDA cataloguing rules require cataloguers to enter the information exactly as it appears on the book. But this can cause inconsistencies in series filing as the sequential terms used often vary amongst publishers. It was for this reason that SCIS revised its cataloguing standards in May 2018 to record the series number without the sequential term. Older records are now being stripped of these terms.

In addition to these major bulk changes, we occasionally pick up spelling errors, Dewey number errors, and cataloguing errors in individual records which we correct immediately.

Finally, if you prefer to take on a smaller project, we have recently deleted nearly two thousand records for websites that no longer exist and updated nearly 800 URL’s on records that have been re-directed. It may be time to review your website records against the records we have or no longer have on our database.

Conclusion

At SCIS, we have worked hard to make changes to records to improve the functionality of your library catalogue. However, if you still have many of the old records, your library users will not be gaining the full benefit of all these improvements.

Libraries that wish to update their SCIS records to pick up enhancements may decide to re-download the record for each of the titles handled during a stocktake. Yes, it will add to the process, but it is certainly not something you will have to do every year. However, I emphasise, if you want to do a big ‘clean up’ overwriting existing records with SCIS records, you need to confirm with your library management software vendor first to make sure you are doing it correctly. We do not want you to end up with duplicate records or deleted records inadvertently.

Please feel free to share your stocktaking experiences.

Happy stocktaking!

New and revised SCIS Subject Headings

The purpose of SCIS Subject Headings is to provide a controlled language approach suitable for subject access to the library catalogue for primary and secondary school students. This list is used by SCIS cataloguers when selecting or devising appropriate subject headings for educational and curriculum resources catalogued onto the SCIS database. 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.

The following changes have recently been made to SCIS Subject Headings in SCIS Data.

New SCIS subject headings

  • Fake news

Use for works on and about disinformation in print and online media that are deliberately written to attract and mislead readers by exploiting entrenched biases.

Changed subject headings

  • Aboriginal peoples – Dreaming
  • Characters and characteristics
  • Characters and characteristics in films
  • Characters and characteristics in literature
  • Creation
  • Literature – 20th century
  • Literature, Medieval
  • Literature, Modern 

Changed non-allowed terms:

  • Fictional characters
  • Fictitious characters
  • Adaptation, Literary
  • Literature, Modern – 20th century

The full reference structure for each of these headings can be found in https://my.scisdata.com/standards.

New and revised SCIS Subject Headings

The purpose of SCIS Subject Headings is to provide a controlled language approach suitable for subject access to the library catalogue for primary and secondary school students. This list is used by SCIS cataloguers when selecting or devising appropriate subject headings for educational and curriculum resources catalogued onto the SCIS database. 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.

Below is an overview of the new and revised subject headings approved by the SCIS Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC) from 1st January – 1st July in 2019. The changes have been made to SCIS Subject Headings in SCIS Data https://my.scisdata.com/standards

New subject headings

Anxiety disorders

Use for works on medical conditions characterised by persistent, excessive worry.

Streaming technology

Use for works about transferring data (such as audio or video material) in a continuous stream, including use in education.

Recessions

Use for works on a significant decline or slowdown in economic activity that goes on for more than a few months. For works on a severe decline in economic activity that lasts for many years, see Depressions, Economic. For works on situations where the value of assets drop off rapidly, causing a collapse in the economy, see Financial crises.

Financial crises

See also names of specific financial crises*, e.g. Global Financial Crisis, 2008-2009.

Use for works on situations where the value of assets drop off rapidly, causing a collapse in the economy. For works on a significant decline or slowdown in economic activity that goes on for more than a few months, see Recessions. For works on a severe decline in economic activity that lasts for many years, see Depressions, Economic.

Global Financial Crisis, 2008-2009

Children–Mental health

Surveillance

Kolkata (India)

Removed subject heading Calcutta (India)

Revised subject headings

  • Anglican church
  • Church
  • Churches
  • Cults
  • Methodist church
  • Protestant churches
  • Sects
  • European Union
  • Child psychiatry
  • Depressions, Economic

Is there life beyond MARC?

SCIS forges into a new frontier

The Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) is working with several major school library management system vendors in Australia and New Zealand to revolutionise how library catalogue records are distributed to schools.

Continue reading Is there life beyond MARC?

Where SCIS becomes much more … muchier

For anyone who may follow us on social media, or has chatted to the team recently, you may be aware that SCIS keeps talking about our ‘big infrastructure upgrade’. This is the result of three years of quantitative and qualitative market research – thank you once again to everyone who has provided feedback along the way.

So here’s a little more detail about what a SCIS infrastructure upgrade means, and why we’re so excited.

Continue reading Where SCIS becomes much more … muchier

Fare thee well, GMD

Since early 2014, SCIS has been working through its RDA implementation plan. For those who are not familiar with RDA, it stands for Resource Description and Access, the cataloguing standard introduced to replace Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AARC2).

SCIS is very pleased to announce the next major step in that plan. From April 2017, SCIS will cease use of the GMD (General Material Designation), a set of deprecated terms used to describe the ‘Type’ of resource.

SCIS will now use the RDA cataloguing standard of ‘Content, media and carrier type’ to describe the resource. This comes after consultation with, and preparation by, the library management systems who distribute SCIS metadata. While use of RDA for type was adopted as a SCIS cataloguing standard in 2013, GMD was maintained in order to support older systems, a move which is no longer necessary.

Continue reading Fare thee well, GMD

SCIS cataloguing standards update: Dewey or don’t we?

There has been some discussion at SCIS about how schools treat picture books that rhyme. It has been SCIS practice to classify stories in rhyme picture books as poetry, with each book allocated a Dewey Decimal number. However, feedback in workshops and surveys indicate that this did not reflect the preferred classification in schools.

The Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC) meets regularly to discuss and make revisions to the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry, and this issue was recently discussed during a teleconference with the committee. The decision was made on behalf of the ISSC to classify stories in rhyme picture books as fiction, intending to make browsing easier for students and staff in schools. This will also save you the time spent changing the classifications manually.

If you have any questions about this update, please contact scisinfo@esa.edu.au.

We are interested in learning more about how you manage resources so that our standards continue to reflect schools’ needs

We want to make sure our catalogue records continue to meet the needs of our subscribers. Can you spare ten minutes to complete this survey so we can understand how resources are being managed in school libraries?

All survey respondents will go in the draw to win a $250 book card.

Access to digital content

Recent SCIS workshops and presentations have focused on the challenges facing school libraries in their management of digital content. As a key service provider and partner with Australian and New Zealand school libraries SCIS is committed to helping schools deal with collection management issues, and provides catalogue records for e-books, websites, apps, audio books, learning objects and digital video.

SCIS RDA implementation 1 July 2013

SCIS, along with the library world globally, is implementing the new Resource Description and Access (RDA) cataloguing standards – the first major change to take place since the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, second edition (AACR2) were released in 1978.

SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry 2013 edition

The standards that govern SCIS cataloguing have been rewritten and the new 2013 edition has now been published. This extensive document available as a PDF download from the SCIS Help page, is written for SCIS cataloguing staff and runs to 209 pages. The sections most affected by RDA include:
Section 2: Descriptive cataloguing
Section 5: Standards for specific formats, and
Section 6: MARC coding: Bibliographic records

Cake toasting the launch of RDA and RDA Toolkit
Celebrating the launch of RDA at ALA10
CC-by-nc-sa

SCIS cataloguers will commence using these standards on 1 July 2013.
SCIS major decisions

SCIS has consulted with library system providers in Australian and New Zealand school libraries and has decided to move slowly towards full RDA implementation. From 1 July 2013 – 1 July 2014 SCIS will produce hybrid RDA records which continue to use the GMD from AACR2, and which will also retain the 260 Publication field rather than the new 264 field: Production, Publication, Distribution, Manufacture, and Copyright Notice, used by most systems using RDA.

RDA test records

The following records have been added to SCIS so library system providers and SCIS subscribers can test any impact of the change in standards on their systems.

Please note that ISBNs have been removed from these records so they are not accidentally retrieved through SCISWeb or Z39.50. Normal SCIS records will continue to include the ISBN where available.

Title Type of resource Hybrid RDA test
Pure RDA test
Chasing the light : a novel of Antarctica book, fiction 1614792 1614815
Saint Paul’s letters to the Corinthians in the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate book, nonfiction 1614767 1585707
Eraserhead video recording, DVD 1614751 1588961
Desire musical sound recording, CD 1614750 1588970
The call of the wild audiobook, online 1614737 1607780
100 healthy desserts e-book, online 1614769 1581096
Home of the Australian Women Writers Challenge website 1614785 1614812

Background on RDA

For a review of what RDA is, and why it is being implemented revisit this compilation of previous Connections articles and blog posts.

In Connections 83 (October 2012) we published an article by Renate Beilharz from Box Hill Institute entitled: Why new rules, and what’s it got to do with me?
Issue 84 explained How SCIS will implement RDA, and Issue 85 provided more detail on how RDA deals with media types.

As part of the SCIS consultation on 4 December 2012 Renate also provided an introduction to RDA and its benefits for education libraries.

More information about RDA is available on the website of the Australian Committee on Cataloging.

http://www.slideshare.net/scis/rda-in-scis