SCIS is now part of Education Services Australia

ESA logoAs of the 1st of March, SCIS became part of a new company!

Curriculum Corporation, which has been the parent company of SCIS since 1989, has recently merged with to become a new company, Education Services Australia. Like Curriculum Corporation, the newly formed Education Services Australia is a not-for-profit company, owned by all Australian Ministers of Education.

In practical terms, the change will have little effect on SCIS, and we will continue to offer the same level of service as we always have, but we’re very excited that the merger between our parent company, Curriculum Corporation and will give us an opportunity to collaborate more closely with our colleagues at, who have done some  amazing work pioneering digital resources for educators, including the professional networking site edna, and the career services site myfuture.

Connections issue 72 …

Quentin Blake at Kings Cross St Pancreas, London

…is currently winging its way across the Tasman into New Zealand schools for the first time ever! Those of you in Australian schools  should also be receiving their free print copy shortly, if you haven’t already.

This term’s edition has a reprint of our favourite Quentin Blake poster, ‘The rights of the reader’ for you to pull out and display, and our feature article is by Doug Johnson, Director of media and technology at Mankato, Minnesota Public Schools in the United States, on the need for libraries to respond to the needs of what he refers to as a post-literate society.  How libraries can best support the needs of their users whilst simultaneously responding to current changes in technology is a highly topical, occasionally polarising subject at present, and we’d be very interested to hear some comments from schools on Doug’s article.

We also have a really inspiring article, After school in the library media centre by Bob Hassett, head librarian at Luther Jackson Middle School, also in the States, about how he and his library team have fostered local support to implement and maintain an after-school Gamer’s club in their school library, and some of the positive flow-on effects this ‘un-traditional’ activity has had for both the library and the students.

With the next release of the SCIS Authority files due to be released in March this year we also have the latest changes to the SCIS Subject Headings.  This quarter we have made changes to the reference structure of a number of existing headings, and we have implemented a number of new subject headings in response to requests by schools.   A brief summary of these is included in Connections, or for more information, see our detailed list.  If you would like to suggest a new subject heading, or a change to an existing subject heading, please contact us here at SCIS with your suggestion.

Please remember also that the full text of this and past issues of Connections (back to 2006) are freely available online at:

The image above is from flickr creative commons, and can be viewed at:
/ CC BY 2.0

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 and also on the testing website

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:

RSS readers, Feral Learning and PLEs


For its sheer enthusiasm, one of my favourite blog posts of the new year was by Stephanie Zimmerman for the ALA Learning blog, on the subject of feral learning activities and personal learning environments (commonly referred to as PLEs).
Feral learning is autodidactism, in a nutshell – an individualised learning experience in which the user takes responsibility for their own training needs and education, while PLEs support the feral learning/autodidactic experience by allowing the user to create a highly individualised, digital environment where they can gather together a variety of resources in the same place.

More and more, the internet is becoming a source of readily available, credible professional resources, and a great first step in creating your own PLE is setting up an RSS aggregator (also more commonly referred to an RSS reader), like Google Reader, Bloglines, or  Newsgator.  RSS readers allow you to ‘pull’ information from different sites that have RSS feeds, and then display it all on the one web page – which means that instead of bouncing from site to site to find relevant information, you can have it all ‘delivered’ straight to your reader, as if it were your own personal online newspaper.

Adding sources to your RSS reader is as easy as locating a site that has an RSS feed (and most regularly updated sites do now), and then clicking on the RSS feed link to subscribe to it. Any new content added to that site will then automatically appear in your reader. Not for nothing does RSS stand for Really Simple Syndication – it actually is! There are numerous other tools available on the internet that can also be used to create and improve PLEs, but RSS readers are free, web-based (so you don’t have to download any special programs in order to start using them), easy to set up and use and they do a great job.

In their article, Things that keep us up at night (School Library Journal, issue 10, 1 October 2009), Joyce Valenza and Doug Johnson argue that modern practice in libraries is directly linked to equitable access to information, and that teacher librarians should be at the forefront in coming to grips with the changes in the informational landscapes. While we all know that in many schools unrealistic and occasionally absurd internet policies, and a lack of funding for professional development can make it difficult for libraries at times to live up to the best of modern practice, perhaps dangling the carrot of free professional development in front of the principal’s nose might be a way of combating a lack of flexibility in the school’s internet security policy? At the very least, we owe it to ourselves and our users to try, and setting up RSS readers for yourself and your library staff is a great way to demonstrate the ease with which Web 2.0 tools might be integrated into your school’s professional development programme.

The video below contains step-by-step instructions on how to set up your own Google reader account.  Videos showing how to set up a Bloglines or Newsgator RSS feeds can also be found by searching on YouTube.  For some interesting sites that also feature RSS feeds, check out our blogroll on the right-hand side panel of this page, and don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed!

ISBN-13 – a wee refresher

As you are probably aware, on 1 January 2007 the expansion of the International Standard Book Number from 10 digits to 13 was implemented.

The 13-digit ISBN was implemented to make it compatible with EAN-13 barcoding standards, which means that the ISBN and the barcode are now able to be the same number. Formerly the barcode was usually a conversion of the 10-digit ISBN which appeared printed inside the book, but some publishers chose to use barcode numbers which did not relate to the ISBN in any way.

It is now standard for publishers to assign the same 13-digit number for both the ISBN and the barcode number, allowing SCIS users to conveniently scan it into the Orders page in SCISWeb to retrieve their records.  However, SCIS users should be aware that books published in or before 2006 may have a barcode that does not relate at all to the ISBN, which may result in their records being unmatched when they try to download them in SCISWeb.  Where this is the case, you will need to type the ISBN in manually in order to retrieve the correct SCIS record.  Very rarely, recently published books may also be issued with barcodes that do not match the ISBN, although the standard has been widely adopted by most major publishing companies.

Currently, when ordering in SCISWeb, it does not matter whether you enter the 10- or 13-digit ISBN in your order – as long as it is the correct ISBN! SCISWeb will automatically convert the different ISBNs behind the scenes and retrieve the record. This is because all 13-digit ISBNs with the 978 prefix are able to be converted from from 10-digit ISBNs to 13-digit ISBNs and vice versa. Once all the numbers with a 978 prefix are used up, ISBNs will have a 979 prefix and will no longer have a 10-digit ISBN equivalent – making it impossible to convert them to a valid 10-digit ISBN. It also should be noted that the process of converting a 10-digit ISBN to an ISBN-13 does not simply require the numbers 978 to be added to the start of the old 10-digit ISBN. If in doubt, an online ISBN converter is freely available from the US ISBN Agency. If you haven’t already done so you may wish to reconfigure your barcode scanner to read ISBN-13.

You can also elect to have all ISBNs output in 13-digit format by changing your preferences in My Profile. Unfortunately, this conversion functionality is not available to those of you who download records via Z39.50 (also known as Rapid Entry or Z-Cataloguing). Because Z39.50 bypasses the SCISWeb interface to access the SCIS database directly without going through the SCISWeb interface, any import parameters (such as ISBN conversions) must be set up in the user’s local system.

The ELR school library survey


The 2009-10 ELR school library survey has now been sent out to 600 schools.  If you are one of our selected schools for the 2009/10 survey, please complete and return the survey to SCIS before the 13th of November 2009, and  do your part to  support amazing Australian authors like Tohby Riddle, whose 2009  CBC short-listed picture book, Nobody owns the moon is the subject of this lovely display at St. Matthew’s Primary School library in North Fawkner.

For more information about ELR see our earlier blog post on the subject, and remember, each issue of Connections also features news and information about the ELR survey.

Connections issue 71

Connections issue 71 has just gone live! All Australian schools should receive their issue of Connections in the mail VERY shortly, but you can also view the full text for free at

This month our feature article is about how libraries worldwide are utilising Twitter to communicate with their users (you might like to check out SCIS on Twitter too!).

We also have a fabulous article Are schools killing off the library? from British screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell Boyce (Welcome to Sarajevo, Hilary and Jackie,  and the CILIP Carnegie Medal-winning novel, Millions)  who argues that the current fad of renaming school libraries with the unimaginative moniker, Learning Resource Centre, is responsible for disconnecting “reading from the world of pleasure, from the world at all“, and is indicative of a failure by educational institutions to recognise that children need to enjoy reading in order to become competent at it.

Do you want kids to be safe online? Loosen those filters! by Mary Ann Bell of Sam Houston State University argues that that students are more, rather than less, safe with increased internet access at school, plus we have all the latest news and info on ELR, SCIS Subject Headings, the Learning Federation, website reviews and more!

Clickview enhancements in SCIS

Over the next month or so, SCIS will be undertaking a project to enhance existing Clickview catalogue records on the SCIS database.   The project will involve adding the ClickView global ID and 2 series statements to each of the 1400 Clickview records we have catalogued to date. Adding the global ID will provide each Clickview record with a unique identifier, which should aid matching of SCIS and Clickview metadata in local systems, and the series statements should facilitate searching.

To incorporate this new information into the records, we will be utilising the following MARC fields: the 035 (system control number),  the 500 (general note), and the 830 (Series added entry) fields. We will be using the 500 field rather than the 490 (Series statement) field because the series is not actually stated anywhere on the items. An abbrieviated example of the MARC coding for the enhanced records is below (note that this example record does not include all the fields that would normally appear in a SCIS record), and we’ll posting here and on the SCIS website once the enhancements have been completed.


CSU students visit SCIS offices….

…and were sadly disappointed by the lack of books and general  “hive-like activity” … 🙁

We did give them a very nice powerpoint presentation on SCIS cataloguing and subject access though, so hopefully they thought it was worth the trip anyway! Thanks to the magic of  Slideshare I was able to include the powerpoint below for those who are interested in SCIS cataloguing standards and subject access in general.

Supporting Australian authors with ELR

booksThe ELR school library survey is about to begin for 2009 with sample schools receiving a package which includes information on the survey and how (quick and easy it is) to participate. Issue 69 of connections features the musings of teacher librarian Chris Kilfoyle of Leopold Primary School on her experiences at one of our survey schools and the importance of supporting our home-grown talent. Check out page 13 of Connections too,  which features regular information about ELR.

The Educational Lending Right is an Australian cultural program, established with the purpose of ensuring Australian creators (authors, illustrators, translators, compilers and editors) and publishers received fair recompense for income lost from the availability of their books in educational lending libraries; and also as a way of supporting the enrichment of Australian culture by encouraging the growth and development of Australian writing and publishing.  The ELR is administered by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), and is based on the results of The Educational Lending Right school library survey, undertaken annually by SCIS on behalf of DEWHA,  which surveys the library holdings of more than 600 schools throughout Australia. For more information, DEWHA’s ELR page has general info on how ELR is administered and distributed.

Unfortunately copyright restrictions precluded me from posting an actual book cover image to acccompany this post, so I’ve compromised with the above creative commons image, taken from: / CC BY 2.0