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.
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:
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
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”.
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.
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.
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.
A search for ‘Natural disasters’ in SCIS Data will refer users to the used heading ‘Disasters’.
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 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.
an alphabetical listing of used and unused headings, with scope notes (definitions) if required);
cross-references from unused to used headings and between allowed headings; and
a set of prescriptive guidelines for the construction of other headings not in the 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.
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.
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.
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.
Reference only files. Only includes headings which have references (Used for, Broader, Narrower and Related terms).
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 email@example.com. Reasoning for the suggestion should be added. These suggestions will be reviewed by the SCIS Standards Committee.
Have you ever thought “where can I find a resource for teaching?”, then started from scratch, reinvented the wheel and later found something on the internet that would have been perfect? Sometimes there are some great things out there that we’ve forgotten about or that have just gotten lost in the noise.
We’ve put together a small list of things that might be helpful – and we’d love you to continue the discussion in the comments with resources and pages you’ve found useful yourself in your library and internet
The Little Bookroom is a children’s bookshop in Melbourne and they’ve created a thriving and dynamic reading community, offering resources, events and advice for children, families and libraries to identify and choose books suited to their needs. Their website is a great resource because it has book lists and articles which give information and recommendations about topics that sometimes can be difficult to identify appropriate resources for, like:
Books for reluctant readers
Books with neurodiverse characters
Books for advanced younger readers
Books about consent, boundaries and respectful relationships
Books about families and rainbow families
Books about First Nations and People of Colour
…among many others. The Little Bookroom also has a newsletter for teachers and librarians. You can subscribe to hear about current events and contemporary topics in children’s literature.
This one is so useful in a library administrative sense, if you want to know more about how other libraries are classifying books (checking on a dewey number etc) or if you’re searching for a resource and you want to know which libraries have it. Then, of course, it has digitised newspapers, archived websites and some maps and images can be viewed online. It’s literally a treasure trove of information!
Is this one even hidden? But it’s sometimes forgotten, so we’ve included it here. You’ll never have to make a library orientation scavenger hunt checklist, set up a makerspace or make a poster about how to care for library books from scratch ever again if you use Pinterest for ideas! Just go to Pinterest and search something like “resources for school libraries” or you can be more specific if you want book lists, printables, lesson plans or games. There are so many free resources out there, it’s outrageous!
This one has lots of interactions and interviews with YA authors, and is a great way to stay up to date with news, events and trends in Australian Young Adult literature – a great resource both for teaching and for collection development.
The State Libraries
So. Many. Resources.
Sure, Trove is the National Library of Australia, but the State Libraries and the National Library of New Zealand have so much specifically for families, students and teachers…
Highlights: https://natlib.govt.nz/schools which contains lots of resources for schools and students, including epic readers and topic explorers, professional development and a blog with current news and insights.
The website for ACMI has heaps of free learning resources and lessons for teachers and students on their “Schools and Teachers” page, and they’re here to support you not only through onsite incursions but virtually as well – take a look, especially if you’re interested in gamification in the classroom, as there’s a fantastic Game Lessons library that’s just been launched. Amazing!
My own kids prefer to get their reading recommendations from #booktok than from me – check it out to see what teens are reading and recommending, and what they’re talking about. If you want to focus on inclusivity and diversity in your library acquisitions, this is a great place to start. See the article from SCIS Connections Magazine issue 115, “Tiktok and Libraries: a powerful connection” for more information about Librarians on Tiktok.
The #Bookstagram hashtag will show you similar content, but on Instagram. Highlights include the accounts @booksfordiversity and @helpingkidsrise for diverse and uplifting content and @laneysbookcorner and @brookes.bookstagram for great Australian content.
These librarians and readers will inspire you and your students, presenting information about what librarians do and can do, as well as book recommendations, and generally promoting books, libraries and reading in a relatable way. They may also inspire you to start your own Tiktok – and there are plenty of “how-to” guides for this on the internet, including one by Kelsey Bogan herself.
In the latest SCIS Publisher Spotlight, Anouska Jones, Publisher at EK Books, explores the healing power of picture books.
At EK Books, our motto is “Books with heart on issues that matter”. Our goal is to create picture books that will not only entertain but also equip our readers with tools to navigate modern life.
Primarily aimed at the 4 to 8 year age group, our list includes books on everything from coping with the loss of a pet (Saying Goodbye to Barkley) to dealing with anxiety (Go Away, Worry Monster!). We sometimes deal with tough subjects, so our books are often written and illustrated by passionate children’s book creators who have another professional life as a counsellor, psychologist, teacher or art therapist. They know first-hand how quickly a child can shut down if they feel they are being analysed or assessed. They realise that picture books can be a way to open the door of communication, spark conversation and facilitate healing.
Showing young readers that they are not alone
By reading a story about another child going through the same experience as them, young children realise that they are not alone. Other kids have felt sad or struggled to make friends. Other kids have lost a parent or have a grandparent with dementia. Other kids have worried about starting school or trying something new. And if those children (or characters in the book) have made it through the experience, then so can our young reader.
Paul Russell is one of EK’s authors and a primary school teacher. He is dyslexic and struggled hugely at school, always feeling like he was “the dumb one” until one teacher changed his life. This lived experience inspired him to write My Storee, about a boy who loves to write but who loses his creative spark when all the teachers seem to see are his spelling mistakes. It’s a fun-filled story with glorious illustrations and it’s seen Paul receive letter after letter from dyslexic children who feel heard in his story.
Opening the door to tough conversations
Picture books are also a way to gently explore subjects that might otherwise be too difficult for a child to speak up about. At the End of Holyrood Lane won the 2019 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for Book of the Year in Australia and New Zealand, for its portrayal of domestic violence. The violence within the family is only depicted through the metaphor of a storm from which the girl runs and hides. One day she seeks shelter instead, depicted as a person holding a protective umbrella, and from then on the storms don’t rage over her anymore.
Interestingly, children with no experience of domestic violence often don’t see the shadowy face in the storm clouds. They interpret the book as a straightforward story about a girl’s fear of storms. But for those children who do know what it’s like to live in a violent home, the book helps them to start the conversation with a trusted adult.
Providing everyday comfort and building emotional resilience
Healing doesn’t always need to be on such a large scale. Sometimes the simple act of settling down with a picture book can help to calm a child after a stressful day. As they become absorbed in the rhythm of the words and the detail in the illustrations, the child’s breathing regulates and emotions are soothed. Reading a picture book together is also a gentle way for a parent or teacher to reconnect with a child after an emotional upset.
Finally, picture books play a vital role in developing a child’s visual literacy, helping them to recognise and understand emotions, and building empathy. And empathy, in turn, is linked with improved resilience, which is a cornerstone for good mental health.
About the author
Anouska Jones is the Publisher at EK Books, the children’s picture book imprint of Exisle Publishing. Launched in 2013, this boutique imprint is home to several award-winning titles and best-selling books, and was nominated for Best Children’s Publisher of the Year, Oceania region, at Bologna Book Fair in 2019.
Facebook: EK Books
‘Capturing research to enable literacy leaders to transform the culture of schools’
On the 21st November, the ASLA 2020 National Literacy Research Summit will highlight Dr Margaret Merga as Keynote Speaker and Patron and the latest research into literacy in schools. The Summit will bring together experienced School Library Practitioners, School Leaders and Literary Experts from across Australia for a new and exciting virtual professional learning experience!
Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to discover:
• Current research on student literacy
• Successful strategies to use in your school
• Strong research-based literacy programs
• Guidance on how to raise school literacy levels
• Advocacy ideas for your School Library
• Valuable information from sponsors
School Library Practitioners All of the featured Literacy Practitioners have been influenced by the research of Dr Margaret Merga and have adopted innovative ideas in their schools to raise literacy levels.
Registrations can be made here. ASLA Members: $150.00 Non-Members: $225.00.
Access to all high-quality presentations ‘on demand’ during and after the event. Opportunity to network with supportive colleagues in your state or territory and across Australia.
SCIS is the proud ASLA 2020 National Literacy Research Summit Gold Sponsor.
The Australian School Library Association Inc. (ASLA) is the national authority in the field of teacher librarianship and school library resource services.
In May, the Oxford University Press announced the Children’s Word of the Year for 2016 was refugee.
The word was selected after analysis of entries from the BBC Radio 2 500 WORDS competition, which asked children aged 5-13 to submit a piece of fiction no more than 500 words in length. With over 123,000 entries, use of the word ‘refugee’ saw a 368% increase from last year’s entries.
World Refugee Week will take place from 19–25 June, with World Refugee Day on Monday 20 June. Following recent global events, it is important that students are aware of the refugee crisis. It is through learning about others that we generate awareness, empathy, and understanding. OUP have put together a great infographic, available on this page.
SCIS has catalogued a range of educational, interactive digital content aimed at sharing the experiences of refugees around the world.
We recently mailed out Connections 97 to schools in Australia. In this issue, we included an article by Chris Harte about St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School which has received great feedback. The article showcases the wonderful things librarians Jackie and Megan are doing in their makerspace, and provides tips for people eager to follow in their footsteps.
Following the interest in this article, we’re reaching out to all of you to see if you are doing exciting and innovative things in your library that you would be willing to share with our readers. This will be a great way to share what’s happening in Australian and New Zealand school libraries and inspire others.
If you have a story to share that may be of benefit to the wider school library community – whether it’s organising your library’s collections in an exciting way, doing innovative things to engage students with their learning, or doing interesting things to promote literacy, STEM subjects, or your library itself – we’d love to hear about it.
Please don’t hesitate to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in writing an article for Connections.
Acclaimed author Jackie French provides insight into the life of children’s writers: responding to children’s letters, creating teaching notes, and devoting their life to writing. Jackie discusses how libraries facilitate the relationship between the reader and the writer, and how school library staff can help to aid in the growth of the Australian writing industry.
Jackie Child and Megan Daley, librarians at St Aidan’s Anglican School for Girls, are using their makerspace to encourage tinkering and making in their school. Chris Harte talked to them about how they developed their makerspace, starting with small projects and building from there.
Hannah Wandel discusses how the Country to Canberra initiative is empowering young rural women to reach their leadership potential. Country to Canberra runs an annual, national essay competition, which gives winners the opportunity to travel to Canberra to connect with our country’s leaders.
Barbara Braxton writes about the importance of professional learning, arguing that if we are to encourage lifelong learning, we should practice it ourselves. Barbara provides recommendations to make professional goals meaningful and worthy of investment.
This article explains the benefits of cataloguing digital content, and shows how SCIS records for new electronic resources and digital collections can be downloaded in bulk from the Special Order Files page.
You can also check out this video showing the print cycle of Connections. Thank you to Printgraphics for putting the video together.
Interested in having your writing published? If you have any ideas for articles relevant to the school library community, we’d love to hear them! Send us an email at email@example.com.
Harmony Day is celebrated on 21 March, coinciding with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and following Victoria’s Cultural Diversity Week (12–20 March).
We have created catalogue records for the following digital resources:
This website provides information about Harmony Day 2016 and information about the multicultural make up of Australian society. It also provides news feeds, access to free resources, and ideas about how to celebrate the day. Included is access to ‘Recipes for Harmony’, an online resource featuring recipes, cultural profiles and personal stories from every-day and high profile Australians. It also includes a teacher resource to accompany ‘Recipes for Harmony’, which provides example lesson plans, work sheets, ice breakers, and other classroom activities.
Y challenge : celebrating diversity [website], by the Australian Red Cross (SCIS no 1753460)
The Y program encourages young people to explore and celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity. It also helps them develop projects that promote fairness, respect for one another, participation and a sense of belonging among their school and local communities.The program is divided into three sections (Description based on online preview). The program is divided into three sections: Explore, Inspire, and Take action.
Harmony Day Stories (SCIS no 1753463)
Experience three stories that are part Australia’s past, present and future – Renata, Kofi and Anh. Download the Harmony Day Stories app today to watch each stories come to life with augmented reality, a cool new interactive experience (Taken from the app’s description). Available from both Apple and Google stores.
Developed by Reconciliation Australia, this website introduces its readers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, cultures, and perspectives. ‘Share our pride’ was designed to raise awareness and break down cultural myths and barriers in order to build respectful relationships.
Roads to Refuge is designed to give students, teachers and the community access to relevant, factual and current information about refugees (Taken from website).
To find more resources celebrating cultural diversity on SCIS OPAC, you can ‘Browse by subject‘ using a range of different subject headings, such as: Harmony Day (Australia); Cultural diversity; Multiculturalism; or Cultural enrichment. You can also check out the carousel on our homepage, featuring books that promote a variety of multicultural perspectives.
If you use any other websites or resources that celebrates cultural diversity and encourages cultural awareness, we’d love to hear about them. You can leave a comment here or send us a tweet at @schoolscatinfo.
Here are the highlights from the latest issue of Connections, which is now available online. If you have any ideas for articles and would like to contribute to a future issue of Connections, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d also love to hear any feedback you have about our articles, which ones stood out for you, or what you’d like to see more of.
At a time when many school libraries are undergoing cuts, Vancouver Public Schools in the U.S. are revamping their libraries, with teacher librarians guiding schools and student learning into the future.
Marianne Grasso discusses the importance of multicultural literature in the school library fiction collection, providing examples of books and digital content that promote multicultural perspectives and encourage global awareness.
Kay Oddone’s article provides useful tips on how to teach students to become info-savvy learners, and how to identify quality information in an online environment that often lacks an authoritative voice.
This article explains how social history can be taught in the classroom, with suggested lesson plans that encourage students to inquire and learn more about the social history in their families and in their communities.
SCIS cataloguer Julie Styles explains the differences between different types of barcodes and identifiers, including how these can be used to both locate and describe resources using SCISWeb and the SCIS catalogue.