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.’
‘I recently attended the workshop on making the most of SCIS,’ she says. ‘It was a very informative and really enjoyed it.’
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 email@example.com.
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’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.
As we look back on 2020 and plan for the new year, we revisit Miriam Tuohy’s Synergy article ‘New Zealand librarians in lockdown‘. In this article, Miriam discusses the responses from their library community to the restrictions they encountered and outlines what we can take away from these most unusual experiences.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made this year a particularly tough one. We’ve all had to do extraordinary things in circumstances that are both challenging and still evolving. In New Zealand our Covid-19 elimination strategy saw the whole country shut down in late March, with schools closed and everyone outside of essential services working from home. After a brief return to almost-normal life, restrictions were put in place again to contain another outbreak of Covid-19 in our largest city.
Since March, school library staff and National Library Services to Schools teams alike have had to adapt what we do, and how we work, to try and meet these challenges while still providing ongoing services and support.
The nationwide lockdown
National Library Services to Schools Covid-19 response
By mid-March, we were talking about possible school closures and how we’d provide support if that happened. When the move to Alert level 4 was announced, we had plans in place. With the challenge of working and learning at home ahead of us, we first had to look at what was going to be possible. Then we could decide what was the most meaningful work we could do. Our top priority was making sure people were OK — looking after our well-being, balancing work and family responsibilities while at home.
…we first had to look at what was going to be possible. Then we could decide what was the most meaningful…
Our existing online services were given a boost.
We extended the hours of our AnyQuestions online service to help students with research and inquiries so they could get help throughout the school day.
We began a major review of Topic Explorer (curated digital resource sets for curriculum support) — more than 90 topic sets have now been updated.
We offered our online professional learning free of charge. Staff from more than 60 schools signed up to learn about collection development, and resources to inspire and inform inquiry learning.
Help with login information for the EPIC databases (funded by the Ministry of Education and managed by the National Library) was in demand during lockdown, and in June we recorded the highest usage rates ever!
We were also able to try new things:
We hosted webinars to support school library staff working from home. Our team kept participants informed, entertained, and most importantly connected during lockdown.
The school library network groups that Services to Schools facilitates were moved online, with socialcatch-ups via Zoom scheduled first. Term 2 network meetings via Zoom included our first-ever national meeting for intermediate (for Years 7-8) schools.
We trialled a new channel for online learning, with a short email course entitled “Your school library is still open”, designed to help schools set up an online presence for their library as quickly as possible.
School library services during lockdown
In preparation for lockdown, school library teams made a huge effort to get as many books as possible out to their students to take home, with record numbers of items issued in the last few days before Alert level 4 came into force.
During lockdown, some school library staff were able to stay in regular contact with their colleagues, students and families but others could not. In Services to Schools’ first webinar for school library staff working at home we polled attendees about communicating with colleagues, and with students and their whānau (families). Email polled higher than all other channels as shown in Figures 1 & 2.
Those who were able to stay connected with their community were mindful of the stresses for children and their families during lockdown and took care to focus on supporting wellbeing and learning where possible, while not overwhelming people with information.
Access to digital resources and technology
There was renewed interest from some schools in providing eBooks as part of their future planning.
Schools with an eBook platform continued to promote this service, and those without encouraged their communities to make use of their local public library eBook systems. There was renewed interest from some schools in providing eBooks as part of their future planning.
Some school libraries with managed sets of devices were able to make these available to students over lockdown. The Ministry of Education embarked on a massive rollout of Wi-Fi and personal devices (as well as print ‘hard packs’ with workbooks) to support learning at home.
School library staff curated free eBooks, audiobooks, and other digital resources for their community, and produced videos and other ‘how-to’ information to promote and encourage their use.
The Coalition for Books worked with the publishing and library sectors here to develop arrangements and guidance for running virtual story-times. Some school library staff made this a regular feature of their support for students during lockdown, reading live on YouTube or joining in class video calls to read aloud.
New Zealand’s Covid-19 alert level system uses the term ‘bubble’ to describe the concepts of self-isolation and social distancing. When schools re-opened at Alert level 3 in late April, some library staff returned to school, working alongside small class bubbles in the library.
A handful of schools set up click-and-collect services to make books available again for students and their families.
On 13 May 2020 New Zealand moved to Alert level 2. Services to Schools lending service centres in Auckland and Christchurch re-opened and our Capability Facilitators were again able to meet face-to-face with school staff. Finally, on 8 June 2020, we moved to Alert level 1 where we stayed for the next 9 weeks.
Auckland schools back to Alert level 3
On 12 August 2020 the Auckland region moved back into Alert level 3, and the rest of New Zealand to Alert level 2, after a new community outbreak. Schools in Auckland were closed, and all non-essential workers were once again working from home. At the time of writing*, the whole of New Zealand is at Alert level 2, with all schools able to open again and most people back at their regular place of work, but with social distancing and gathering sizes restricted.
How librarians can prepare for challenging times
If you think about the key elements of a school librarian’s role, developing the skills to do these well will help us be prepared for future challenges.
We focus on the needs of our community and include them as we make informed decisions about what library services and resources will work best for them.
We develop and use systems to organise information and stories, to make access easy for our community.
We create safe and welcoming environments where people can read, work and learn together or alone.
We keep up-to-date with literature and information published for children and young people and do our best to make these available to our community.
We keep up-to-date with new technologies, tools and platforms and explore how to use them ourselves and to support others.
Over and above that, there are some key traits I think librarians need to develop – regardless of where we work – to help us deal with challenges.
Resilience: recognise that challenges, uncertainty and change are inevitable. If there is one thing we’ve learned from the Covid-19 pandemic it is the importance of well- being and kindness – looking after ourselves so we can look after others. We need to develop strategies to help bounce back when we’ve been stressed or stretched in new ways. In our work, we need to design services that are flexible and adaptable, that reduce challenges, and give people options that work best for them.
…we need to design services that are flexible and adaptable, that reduce challenges, and give people options that work best for them.
Reflection: when you look back at the challenges you’ve faced in 2020, think about your actions and interactions. Which were the most meaningful, and why was that? How can we focus our attention on those good bits and build them in to our every-day lives and work? How are we different now, and what impact will this have on our roles? Future-focus: what do you think your biggest challenges will be in future? Will they be different to the challenges you have now? When you hear about new ideas, resources and tools, think about their potential impact on your library’s services. It’s important to keep learning all the time – evaluating what we do and looking for ways to improve. Connections: good relationships are fundamental to our work. Maintaining connections and keeping lines of communication open with our communities were so important during lockdown. What we have seen is that it’s often those who are most isolated – whether geographically or socially – who need extra support to connect. How can we strengthen relationships and make our face-to-face and online interactions as positive and impactful as possible?
Changes resulting from the pandemic
Despite the difficulties this year, we have also seen some bright spots, and positive changes. Responding to the pandemic has brought out strengths people and teams didn’t know they had. Creative problem-solving has led to innovative changes in the way we do things. Understanding what really matters to people helped us focus on how we can have the greatest impact.
The weeks of lockdown here gave school library staff time to reflect on how the library is working for their school community – their collections, the spaces, and the services the library offers – and to make plans for change and improvement.
For National Library’s Services to Schools, some of the changes we introduced during lockdown are becoming business-as-usual for us now. Our online learning courses will remain free for the rest of 2020. Webinars will become a regular feature of our PLD programme, as will sector-based Zoom network meetings bringing together intermediate or area schools from across the country, for example.
We expect the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to be with us for some time yet. For example, there may be schools with lower levels of non-government funding (related to a drop in fee-paying international students, or financial hardship in the community) who aren’t able to support their library as they have in the past. In time the flow-on effects of school closures and disruptions will be clearer, and there will be ways for school libraries to help mitigate any learning loss.
At Services to Schools, we will work alongside schools in the months ahead to help them further strengthen the contribution their library can make to student learning and wellbeing. We hope it isn’t too long before we can do that face-to-face with all our school library colleagues!
Miriam Tuohy joined the National Library of New Zealand’s Services to Schools as School Library Development Senior Specialist in 2016. Her involvement in the New Zealand education system spans early childhood education, primary and secondary school and tertiary libraries. Miriam was a member of the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (SLANZA) National Executive from 2010- 2016 including a year as President in 2015-16. As part of her current role, Miriam has contributed to the publication of Services to Schools framework for school library development, the 2018 and 2019 reports of the nationwide surveys of New Zealand school libraries. She is also involved in developing and delivering professional development for school library staff and teachers, and is a regular contributor to the National Library of New Zealand’s Libraries & Learning blog.
Appendix 1. Feedback
“Really enjoyed attending the meeting. I hope you can continue to offer online meetings. They work much better for us, we were forced to become really good at online meetings over lockdown.”
“Thank you for all the marshalling and organising and guiding us you do. We are much enriched by being a group, with the opportunity to share and communicate.”
“Thank you all of you – I’ve really loved the weekly webinars and they’ve been a lifeline to the library community.”
“I have really enjoyed the webinars and found them really supportive and useful – thank you and your team so much for all the hard work you have put into preparing them.”
“Thank you for producing this brilliant series of webinars. I have enjoyed them, have investigated almost all the links and plan to put some into action as soon as I have organised whatever happens at school when I eventually return. I am in my 7th week off school, with no way I can access my library or programme, so can do little except the PD you are offering.”
“Thanks for your amazing webinars over the last 4 weeks. I have been really inspired and have enjoyed the very professional presentations.”
* On the 26/11/2020 - when the SCIS Blog republished this article - New Zealand was at Alert level 1.This article first appeared in Synergy, online journal of the School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV).
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.
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.
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.
SCIS’s Carmen Eastman has contributed an article to the latest edition of the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (Te Puna Whare Matauranga a Kura) Collected Magazine.
The article explores professional learning trends and opportunities for school library staff. Read the article below or visit slanza.org.nz/collected.html to read this and many more great articles in ‘The role of the librarian during challenging times’ issue.
The COVID19 pandemic has shone a light on our standard work practices. Organisations of all sizes, from all industries, have and will continue to face challenges. There is no doubt that the way we work has changed forever.
Early in the pandemic, businesses around the world postponed and cancelled in-person meetings in response to the crisis. Workplace learning was emerging as one of the earliest and hardest-hit business activities. Then we saw a shift. There was a substantial increase in the use of digital delivery globally across all segments of the workforce. Organisations began using digital learning to increase collaboration among teams working either remotely or across different time zones, as they completed courses together and collaborated in virtual formats such as videoconferencing and instant messaging (McKinsey & Company et al., 2020).
With more people having to work from home to contain the spread of COVID19, many found that they had a chance to tick off items on their perennial to-do list (training.com.au & Syed, 2020). Many others used this time to invest in upskilling and achieving their professional development goals by learning online.
During the COVID19 crisis, the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) recorded a dramatic increase in the uptake of professional development materials. The SCIS professional learning webinar Subject Headings and Authorities in SCIS (May 2020) was our most popular to date, as people sought resources that would help them better connect with their school community and improve their knowledge, skills and practise.
The dynamic and changing library and information environment demands that teacher librarians and school library staff continue to develop and broaden their knowledge and skills so that they can anticipate and respond to the needs of the school community (Australian Library and Information Association, 2019).
Perhaps you have noticed that certain skills would be beneficial to have in your current role. Maybe you are thinking of ways to future-proof your skillset, given the ever-changing nature of our world around us. Whatever your motivation, now could be an excellent time to learn new skills (training.com.au & Syed, 2020).
Continuing professional development (CPD) involves maintaining, enhancing and extending your knowledge, expertise and competence. It includes:
• keeping up-to-date with technical developments in your area(s) of specialisation
• extending your knowledge into other relevant fields
• honing existing skills and developing new ones
• developing an understanding of the practical application of new skills and knowledge
• applying your learning and accumulating experience.
There are many CPD opportunities available to professionals who are willing to think creatively and analytically about their current role and career aspirations. There are three broad categories to consider:
1. formal CPD
2. informal work-related CPD
3. activities external to your work that contribute to your CPD.
Formal CPD includes:
• full and part-time tertiary study including both accredited and non-accredited courses
• conferences and seminars (as either a delegate, speaker, or panel member)
• webinars and online courses
• undertaking research
• writing papers and delivering work-related presentations
• participation in staff development training courses/activities provided by employers
• formally arranged mentoring (Professional Managers Australia, 2019).
Naturally, SLANZA’s online professional development (PD) opportunities come to mind! It is also worthwhile considering conferences and seminars in related industries. For example, several education conferences have shifted to online delivery, opening up opportunities to attend global conferences such as the ACEL Global Leadership Conference 2020.
Online courses are often less expensive than more traditional courses onsite at a university. The emergence of MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) offers librarians another online education option. Any online course allows you to plan your study time around the rest of your day – you can study when at your most productive (Wiley & Wenborn, 2018).
The SCIS team have created a free short course. Managing your library collection and catalogue is suitable for new school library staff and for those who would like a refresher. Focusing on collection curation and cataloguing, it helps school library staff get started in organising the resource offerings in their library. The response to this course has been overwhelmingly positive, with comments ranging from ‘Thanks this is so helpful and timely while working from home’ to ‘Back to basics. A good reminder of what makes libraries tick …’
INFORMAL WORK-RELATED CPD
Informal work-related CPD refers to other activities associated with your work that contribute to your development as a professional but are not necessarily designed as CPD. Informal CPD can include:
• discussions with colleagues
• sharing knowledge and information at meetings
• participation in work-related committees
• reading, researching information via the internet; reviewing books or articles for professional purposes
• participation in activities associated with a professional association of which you are a member
• active involvement in a professional association – such as SLANZA of course! (Professional Managers Australia, 2019).
Do you have the time to shadow a colleague? What better way to learn than from the people around you? Your colleagues are likely to have insight and knowledge in related areas that you can learn from and practise. Find someone who has a skillset that you are interested in gaining and ask them if they are willing to share their expertise. Additionally, shadowing offers a broader knowledge of various jobs and functions within your team. It can provide insight into additional skills you may want to acquire as you watch your colleagues put them into practice (Wiley & Wenborn, 2018).
In response to the COVID19 crisis, the US School Library Journal (SLJ) is offering free access to the digitised edition of their magazine. Take the time to read a quality local library publication – SLANZA’s Collected magazine, or Connections, a quarterly school library journal published by SCIS. Better yet, why not try your hand at writing an article? Writing for Collected and Connections is an excellent way to advocate for your library and share your ideas with colleagues around the world. Now, more than ever, it is important to celebrate the valuable role of school libraries and recognise how they support student learning.
There are many opportunities to enhance your CPD through activities external to your workplace, for example:
• putting your hand up for a committee role associated with your involvement in a sport or community group
• learning something new that is fun and could help progress your career – for example learning a foreign language
• engaging in an activity that develops you as a person. From martial arts to visual arts, the choices are limited only by your imagination
(Professional Managers Australia, 2019).
You do not always need structure or a class to learn something new. Identify a skill that will support you in your line of work or one that you need to improve and start practising. Working in a library, you are part of a busy environment that requires you to possess a multitude of skills, from the expert knowledge of new technology to strong people skills. That is why, for many, the need for training never ends (Wiley & Wenborn, 2018).
SCIS is a business unit of Education Services Australia (ESA), a not-for-profit company established by all Australian Ministers of Education. ESA supports the delivery of national priorities and initiatives in the schools, training and Higher Education sectors. Not only does SCIS create affordable, high quality, consistent catalogue records for school libraries, but its goal is also to advocate for and support the school library community globally.
Australian Library and Information Association. (2019). Professional development for library and information professionals | Australian Library and Information Association. www.alia.org.au. https://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/policies-standards-and-guidelines/professional-developmentlibrary-
McKinsey & Company, Kshirsagar, A., Mansour, T., McNally, L., & Metakis, M. (2020, March 17). Adapting workplace learning in the time of
coronavirus. www.mckinsey.com. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-accelerate/our-insights/adapting-workplacelearning-
Professional Managers Australia. (2019, April 12). The importance of continuing professional development. www.professionalsaustralia.org.au.
training.com.au, & Syed, H. (2020, May 28). Upskilling in the Age of COVID-19. www.training.com.au. https://www.training.com.au/ed/upskillingin-
Wiley, & Wenborn, C. (2018, April 13). 4 Professional Development Tips for Busy Librarians. www.wiley.com. https://www.wiley.com/network/
Here at the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS), our mission is to make our users’ life easier. Our data is designed to work seamlessly within your library management system, using high-quality data to build a brilliant user experience. To support your work, we also have the SCIS Data website (scisdata.com) – with a stack of nifty features that will improve your library catalogue and save you time and money.
1. Cataloguing (of course!)
The SCIS database has approximately 1.6 million high-quality, consistent catalogue records.
As part of a SCIS subscription, libraries can also request cataloguing for new materials that they have not been able to locate a record for in SCIS Data. We encourage you to place an online cataloguing request at my.scisdata.com/CreateCatalogueRequest. Good news! We have recently revamped the service to make it quicker and easier to submit these requests. You can use this service to request the cataloguing of websites and other online resources you think would be useful to you and the wider school library community.
Sometimes, you might have a query about a record or maybe you’ve found a mistake. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and our cataloguing team will investigate.
Remember we are a cataloguing community, so feedback helps not only you, but also nearly 10,000 other users around the world.
Text-only catalogue displays are a thing of the past. While the old adage ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is wise, the reality is that the cover of a resource makes it look more appealing and does affect reader choice. Using cover images to supplement the text-based catalogue record is an effective method of catching the reader’s eye as they browse through the virtual shelf.
SCIS subscribers are able to download most of the cover images displayed in SCIS Data into their own library-management systems. Subscribing schools may not pass cover images on to a third party, but for their own use they may include them:
on the school’s online library catalogues
on the school’s website, including blogs, wikis, online newsletters and intranet
At the time of writing, there are over 80,000 records on SCIS Data for digital resources (websites, apps, ebooks and digital videos), and this number grows every month. We also catalogue apps, ebooks and digital videos. We catalogue resources that are curriculum-related, educational and recreational.
SCIS has made catalogue records for nearly 400 free Project Gutenberg titles (scis.edublogs.org/2020/05/06/literatures-greatest-works-are-yours-for-free). SCIS Data offers subscribers the option to download collections (https://help.scisdata.com/hc/en-us/articles/360051763433-What-are-the-Download-Collections-) of records from four resource providers: ClickView digital video library; Wheelers ePlatform One; World Book eBook Series; and the National Library of New Zealand (Topic Explorer and EPIC Resources).
The hard work has been done – importing digital content is a quick and easy way to grow your collection.
When a teacher approaches you about finding resources for their upcoming unit, where is the first place you look? Perhaps you perform a quick internet search to see if it can direct you to any relevant resources. Maybe you check a publisher’s website. Yet, if we encourage students to use the library catalogue based on its inclusion of trusted, credible and educational resources, why not use a catalogue ourselves?
Let’s say the history teacher has approached you to help her find World War I resources for her Year 9 class. If you pop over to the SCIS catalogue, you can start with a basic search – perhaps simply ‘World War I’ – and, from the results page, refine your search. Filtering by your specific learning area, subject and audience level will provide you with the most relevant resources catalogued by SCIS. The advanced search option allows you to limit your search further by either fiction or non-fiction – and, if it’s fiction you’re looking for, to narrow your search by specific genres.
The Featured categories on the SCIS Data search page provide a quick and easy way to source resources and records for websites, apps, ebooks and digital videos. The SCIS catalogue also has the ability to build lists. Rather than downloading one record at a time, you can curate lists within the SCIS catalogue. This is particularly helpful for schools using SCIS as a resource selection tool.
SCIS Data includes additional information via our subscription to Syndetics. Where the information is available, the record consists of summaries and annotations, author notes, authoritative reviews, and series information. Through our subscription to LibraryThing for Libraries, we can also provide community-generated content, including recommendations, tags, and links to other editions and similar items. Although this additional information is not included in the downloaded record, it can help with searching and selection of records.
SCIS Authority Files (scisdata.com/products/authority-files) provide a rich search experience to make the most of your resources. Authority Files link terms between records, to display the ‘see’ and ‘see also’ references. A subscription to SCIS Authority Files allows you to download Subject, Name and Series Authority Files from the SCIS website, and upload them to your library management system – where you’ll truly see the magic of metadata with a rich search and discovery experience for your students.
SCIS prides itself on responsive, proactive customer service. Our team of customer service and cataloguing professionals are on hand to answer your questions. Visit our contact page (scisdata.com/contact-scis) to submit a question. Explore the SCIS Help articles (help.scisdata.com/hc/en-us) or watch the SCIS Help videos (vimeo.com/user4095009) and learn how to make the most of your subscription. Or stay up to date with the latest SCIS news by visiting our news carousel at scisdata.com. We are here to help.
7. Shopping cart
The SCIS shopping cart allows you to request and download your invoice, or pay online.
Our shopping cart also allows users to add in SCIS extras before renewing their annual invoice – such as barcode scanners (scisdata.com/barcode-scanners), professional learning and Authority Files. Ordering is nice and simple, and should you decide you need something extra when you renew your SCIS subscription (like a barcode scanner for stocktake!) you can have everything on one invoice to pass on to your accounts team.
8. Professional learning
Attend a SCIS webinar (scisdata.com/professional-learning) and learn how SCIS Data makes resource management simple – helping school libraries by providing high quality catalogue records, improving content searching and discovery, and developing digital collections.
The free SCIS short course ‘Managing your library collection and catalogue’ (scis.edublogs.org/2020/03/31/free-scis-short-course-managing-your-library-collection-and-catalogue) is suitable for new school library staff and for those who would like a refresher. Published on the SCIS Blog, the course focuses on collection curation and cataloguing, it helps school library staff get started in organising the resource offerings in their library. The response to this course has been overwhelmingly positive, with comments ranging from ‘Thanks, this is so helpful and timely while working from home’ to ‘Back to basics. A good reminder of what makes libraries tick …’
We’ve been publishing our magazine Connections (scisdata.com/connections) since 1992, and we’re pretty proud of it. For the first time in our history all back editions are available online – a fascinating record of changes in the library industry over several decades.
All Connections articles are written by members of the school library community. Writing for Connections is an excellent way to advocate for your library and share your ideas with colleagues around the world. Now, more than ever, it is important to celebrate the valuable role of school libraries and recognise how they support student learning. So, if you have a great article you would like to share, please email email@example.com.
The SCIS team is passionate about school libraries. In addition to Connections magazine, we offer the school library community a number of ways to keep up to date with what is happening at SCIS and with industry trends and information. Subscribe to the SCIS Blog or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn @scisdata or Instagram @scis.data.
SCIS cataloguers add approximately 3,700 catalogue records to the database each month, keeping it relevant and current. The resources catalogued come from a range of sources, including publishers, booksellers and school libraries. These hot-off-the-press titles are our best means of creating a quality record that is accurate and compliant with international cataloguing standards. This is important, considering each record is likely to be downloaded by nearly 10,000 school subscribers around the world. It’s rare to have a day when we don’t receive a small parcel or large box of books delivered to one of the six SCIS cataloguing depots.
SCIS also works with providers of library management systems to ensure the most efficient delivery of SCIS products and services. And we support university and TAFE educators in training and developing future librarians with essential cataloguing skills by offering complimentary access to SCIS Data.
Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.*
*Thank you Misty Copeland for the excellent quote!
Hello all! The amazing SCIS team have created a free short course for new school library staff (and for those that would like a refresher). Focusing on collection curation and cataloguing, we will help you get started in organising the resource offerings of your library. We have created 7 SCIS Blog posts, each containing a lesson in managing your library collection and catalogue. Click on the links below and explore at your own pace.
We’ll start slow, and take you through the basics of a library: what it is, and what it can be. Ideal for those of you who have just stepped into the role of librarian. But this is also a nice refresher, and a chance for those of you who have been working in a library for some time, to take a step back from your current practices and think about the basics.
Now we start to get into the juicy stuff! This lesson looks at the library collection policy and why it is so important. We cover sourcing and acquisition — building up your library collection — along with the necessary evils, otherwise known as weeding and stocktake.
This lesson dives right into the heart of cataloguing. We discuss why we need to follow cataloguing standards, what standards you’ll need to be aware of, and how to make standards work for your library.
We’ll start looking at the ways you can describe your library collection, and where you can find information on a particular item. We also look at how most people perform searches, and the important fields to consider when cataloguing.
This lesson uncovers the benefits of controlled vocabularies. We also delve into authorities and authority files: what they are, and how they can make your collection more discoverable to staff and students.
Here is where you can start to make your library work for you and your school. We discuss the importance of classification, describe the difference between full and abridged Dewey, and provide an overview of call numbers and genre classification.
Our final lesson ties everything together. We’ll look at how to evaluate and advocate your library, suggest activities for engagement and networking, and touch on creating efficiencies. In a nutshell, we discuss how you can make the most of your time to serve the needs of your school.
Now that you understand the basics of cataloguing and collection management, it’s time to look further afield. Your school library exists to improve student learning and information literacy. You know this, but do your users know this? Are the school’s decision-makers aware of this? Do the students’ parents understand this value provided by their school library? Is your library all that it can be?
The best way to find out is to perform a comprehensive evaluation of your library. The survey you conducted back in lesson 1 was intended as a basic feedback tool to gauge your library’s popularity and its perceived value. Now that you have a handle on the basics of your library, it is time to perform a more thorough evaluation. This is an all-round evaluation of your library’s information literacy and literacy programs, staffing, budget and funding, collection and resources, technologies, and facilities.
The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) School Library Guidelines contain an evaluation checklist in Appendix D on which you can model your evaluation. Evaluation activities can include student, teacher and/or parent surveys; and analysis of records from the library’s circulation and cataloguing system. The results of your evaluation should help you to see exactly where your school library’s strengths and weaknesses are. You will then be able to form a plan of action to promote the strengths and improve the weaknesses. You will also be able to gain a greater understanding of your library and its offerings, as well as the educational and teaching needs of the students and teachers. These types of evaluations, large and small, should be done periodically to enable you to always understand, be aware and sufficiently respond to the changing needs of your users as well as the needs of the school.
Advocacy for your library involves long-term planning and continuous activities, but it is so worth the time. This will help you to establish relationships with decision-makers and garner support from those who can influence the decision-makers. Ask yourself: how do the members of your school community think about your school library? Is it just a room with books? Or is it an essential space that supports teaching and learning? Build relationships with school management and administrators. Be loud and proud of what your library is offering. Let people see its worth. To give weight to your case, perhaps refer to international research that demonstrates the contribution of school libraries to student achievement, as well as statements to this effect made by respected international organisations. The IFLA website[i] provides links to some great content that you may find useful. See also the latest advocacy campaign called Students need school libraries.
While advocacy should be directed at school administrators and parents i.e. those who make decisions and those who can influence these decision-makers, don’t forget to market and promote the products and services of your library to your users — your staff and students. Have a plan for marketing your library, and periodically review and adjust to suit changes in users’ trends and needs. Enlist the support of school administration in order to engage their interest and participation, and to ensure your marketing plan is carried out effectively.
One of the outcomes of marketing and advocacy for your library is to engage the interest of the entire school community. You want them to be aware of your library, and have a vested interest in what your library has to offer. To that effect, use every opportunity available to you to engage and build your relationships with all levels of the school community.
If you find yourself short-staffed, recruit students and parents to become volunteer helpers. They can assist you with tasks such as making displays, shelving returned items, keeping shelves tidy, and so much more. It is a way that gains you helping hands while making your library’s presence known to the school and its wider community.
Use social media to communicate news about your school library. Social media provides great platforms on which to advertise events and programs held at the library, share results of library surveys you’ve run, and showcase the personality of you and your library staff.
Perhaps consider stocking some resources for parents and caregivers as a way of showing relevance to the learning needs of the whole school community.
Run events of interest in your library. Ideas could include inviting authors as guest speakers, holding library-themed exhibitions, celebrating international library and literacy days, and running reading, media and information literacy programs (opportunity to collaborate with teachers here). The possibilities are as endless as the opportunities to be creative.
In addition to your own school community, it is also useful to connect with other school librarians and public and academic libraries. Networking ideas include:
follow social media pages to see what others are doing and generate inspiration for yourself
attend library-related professional learning sessions where, besides acquiring new skills, it’s a great way to meet other school library professionals who can share their knowledge and practises with you
find out what school library/library associations there are for your region, and become a member to gain access to industry news, contacts, and information
join library listservs for firsthand knowledge of the current issues and concerns that are being discussed by your peers.
These activities will help you to build a support network of colleagues who understand your role and, more importantly, what you are trying to achieve.
By now, you may have come to recognise that a school librarian’s role is quite varied and takes up a lot of time and energy. So to free up your time, you may wish to invest in services and equipment that help automate certain processes and procedures. For example, there are services available that can catalogue your newly acquired resources for you. If an average working day is 7.25 hours and it takes 16 minutes to create one catalogue record, then you will be using up 19 working days to create 500 records. On the other hand, if you take up a subscription with the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS), you’ll be done with the 500 records in a matter of minutes, and then you can spend the extra 19 days doing other things that may have more impact on teaching, learning and library advocacy.
Whichever way you decide to run your school library, just remember one thing: what you are doing is a great job – it is a job that is crucial and relevant to the learning needs and development of the next generation.
Under each of these areas: evaluation, advocacy, engagement, networking, efficiencies, note one task/goal/thing you can achieve in the next month.
Make a second list of tasks that you would like to achieve in the next term, semester or year. Keep the list handy to remind you of the larger/end goals you have for your school library.
Congratulations on completing our short course! We’ve covered a lot during the past seven weeks, from library basics to managing and organising your collection, and cataloguing resources. We hope you’ve come away inspired, and full of ideas to turn your school library into a vibrant hub that improves student learning and information literacy.
We hope you found the content useful, and we look forward to hearing about the experiences and challenges you’ve faced in your school library. If you have any questions about this course, or Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS), please do not hesitate to contact us.
Student need school libraries https://studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au/
Schools Catalogue Information Service, Connections 99: School libraries supporting literacy https://www.scisdata.com/connections/issue-99/school-libraries-supporting-literacy
Schools Catalogue Information Service, Connections 100: Guerrilla book fair: getting staff involved in your school library https://www.scisdata.com/connections/issue-100/guerrilla-book-fair-getting-staff-involved-in-your-school-library
Schools Catalogue Information Service, Connections 103: Ten ways to advocate for your role as a teacher librarian https://www.scisdata.com/connections/issue-103/ten-ways-to-advocate-for-your-role-as-a-teacher-librarian
Once an item has been described and assigned subject headings, it needs to be classified. A classification system enables materials to be arranged according to a designated order. When users search the library catalogue, the classification will direct them to the correct area on the shelves to locate items. Most often items on the same subject will be grouped together.
One of the most widely used classification systems is the Dewey Decimal System.
Dewey Decimal System (DDC)
The Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC) assigns a three-digit number to each area of knowledge so that materials can be shelved in numerical order with materials on the same subject together. Within each area, subjects can be further defined by adding additional numbers after a decimal point.
The ten main classes defined by the DDC System are:
Computer science, information and general works
Philosophy and psychology
Arts and recreation
History and geography
DDC is a hierarchical system. This means that all topics within each of the main classes are part of the broader topic above them. In general, the longer the number, the more specific the topic it represents.
Arts and recreation
Recreation and performing arts
Athletic and outdoor sports and games
Inflated ball drive by foot
Editions of DDC
DDC is available online, by subscription or print-on-demand.
Libraries use call numbers to label their materials for shelving. A call number for nonfiction resources is usually made up of the classification (DDC) number, and then other information to help users find the item on the shelf, such as letters from the author name, or a location prefix. A location prefix refers to the section of the library in which the item is shelved, such as Nonfiction, Reference, Fiction, or Teacher Reference. The call number suffix may be based on the author’s name and allows items with the same classification number to be shelved in alphabetical order so that they can be easily found.
REF ← Prefix for Reference Area
636.708 ← Classification Number
RIC ← Suffix based on the first three letters of the author name
Using DDC as a component of a call number ensures that materials on similar topics are shelved together and supporting browsing for items of interest.
Fiction collections have traditionally been shelved in alphabetical order, according to the author’s surname, without a classification number. In recent years, many libraries have started to split the fiction collection up into ‘genres’. This means that the books are shelved in small sections, with the same type of books shelved together. Within each section, the books may still be shelved in alphabetical order.
This ensures similar fiction materials are stored together, and helps students and teachers to find the books that they like.
Things to consider
Determine the genres that you want to use. You don’t have to make up a list yourself; you can use authorised genre lists from agencies such as SCIS or Library of Congress as a guide.
Review the space you have, and plan how you will rearrange your shelving and signage.
Decide how you will label the books, and reflect their location in the catalogue.
Take a look at your current collection, and how resources are shelved and displayed in your library. Do you already use classification, Dewey and/or call numbers? If so, fantastic! Are you satisfied with the order and layout you have chosen? Do any sections or shelves need review? If you don’t already use genre to group items, is this something you might consider?
If your library is not yet organised, how can you begin to implement these important changes? Consider what we’ve discussed here, review your current resources, and come up with a plan to classify and shelve them in a way that will best serve the needs of your users.
Classification helps you to keep your library organised, and ensure that resources can be easily found by educators and students in your community. We’ve explored Dewey, and provided an overview of call numbers and genre classification. Next week is our final lesson, where we bring everything together.
Subject cataloguing is the process of assigning terms that describe what a bibliographic item is about.
Cataloguers perform subject analysis for items in their library, most commonly selecting terms from an authorised list of subject headings, otherwise known as a ‘controlled vocabulary’. Controlled vocabularies often take the form of a ‘thesaurus’, which is used to link similar and related terms. In addition to this, a thesaurus also shows hierarchical relationships between terms. For the sake of simplicity, we will refer to this as ‘subject headings’ throughout this lesson.
Do I need to use a controlled vocabulary?
The decision not to use a controlled vocabulary is not something that would be noticed by most library users. The impact of controlled subject headings is subtle, yet it has a profound impact on your catalogue’s ability to retrieve results. It is an ‘unknown unknown’ for users, who do not know about items that their search does not retrieve.
The most common examples of uncontrolled vocabularies are social media tags or user-generated tags — in both examples, users are free to choose any term they wish. It is important to note the limitations of working with an uncontrolled vocabulary.
Consider how controlled vocabularies would help to clear up any confusion in the following situations:
Synonyms (two words with the same meaning)
Homographs (different words with the same spelling).
Without a controlled vocabulary, one cataloguer may assign the subject ‘Insects’ to a record, and another may assign the subject ‘Bugs’ to a similar record. This would result in discrepancies between search results, meaning that the two different subject headings will return two different sets of resources.
Subject heading lists will likely include preferred and non-preferred headings. A controlled vocabulary would choose an authorised, or preferred, subject heading such as ‘Insects’. It may also display ‘Bugs’ as a non-preferred term.
Please note, more than one subject heading can be assigned to a record.
How do people search?
Library catalogues usually provide two main types of search:
A ’basic’ or keyword search that allows the user to type in a search term or phrase and then search across the whole database. This will often bring back too many search results, which then have to be narrowed down or filtered.
An ’Advanced search’, which allows the user to do a much more specific, or targeted search by selecting particular fields. Typical fields include author, title, series, subject or ISBN. This allows for greater precision in your search results.
How do users benefit from subject headings?
There are several benefits of using subject headings, rather than keywords, in advanced searches. Although it can be assumed that most novice catalogue users will use keyword search rather than subject search, it is important that we communicate the benefits of the latter in order to enhance our library users’ information retrieval skills. This, in turn, means they will make the most of your high-quality cataloguing.
Subject searches expand their understanding of what is available
By performing a subject search rather than a keyword search, users can gain a broader understanding of the resources available in the library. For example, say a user enters the search query ‘Super heroes’ — but the preferred term is ‘Superheroes’. Users will be pointed toward the correct term and will see a broader range of subject headings that may assist their search.
Look at the following image as an example. If a user performs a subject search on ‘Flowers’, they will be directed to a range of resources tagged with that subject heading. But before they do, they might be interested in seeing what other options are available. While the user started their search broadly, they might be interested in browsing narrower terms that they didn’t think to search on — or perhaps a related search that might be of interest to them.
Subject headings as access points
In the Resource Description and Access (RDA) standard, subject headings are presented as access points, which allow users to follow an efficient path for resource discovery. If we go back to the idea of the key functions of the library catalogue that we explored in lesson 3, we can understand that subject access points support both greater discoverability and navigation.
RDA supports the inclusion of access points, which, together with authorised subject headings and name headings, allows users to refine their searches. Of course, without authorised terms here, the catalogue’s ability to point users toward relevant resources is hindered; say one person has used the subject heading ‘bugs’ and another has used ‘insects’ — a user will only find one or the other, not both.
Choosing which subject headings to use
Your library users should be at the forefront of your mind when choosing which subject headings to prescribe to your catalogue; it is important that the subject headings align with the vocabulary that they would use. Luckily for cataloguers, there are a number of subject heading lists available for you to choose from, many of which have been created specifically for use in certain fields. Two lists commonly used in the school library environment are SCIS Subject Headings List and Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT).
Each cataloguing authority that creates these subject headings often has an additional product called ‘authority files’ that allows the catalogue and, ultimately, the users, to reap the benefits of
authorised subject and name headings.
What are authority files?
An authority is the authorised or preferred form for a heading — most often names and subjects — in a controlled vocabulary. An authority file is an index of all authority records of any given agency or library. When your library users perform subject searches, authority files also act as ‘recommended searches’. It can point users to the correct subject heading and help them understand how to narrow or broaden their search.
The inclusion of authority files in your library catalogue ensures compliance with RDA standards. As part of the RDA standard, data used in records to describe ‘an entity’ associated with that resource — be it a concept, person, family, or corporate body — should help users find, identify, clarify and understand each entity.
Look at the example below. The authority record for ‘Superheroes’ leaves no confusion as to how to use this subject heading. This not only helps make the cataloguer’s job easier but also the library users.
SCIS Subject Headings List (SCISSHL) or Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) have authority files available for you to subscribe to. Please note, your subject headings and authority files should come from the same source.
Become familiar with different search options offered by OPACs and observe the usefulness of controlled vocabularies. Go to an OPAC in your library system or any other catalogue.
Do a basic keyword search for a term eg Houses, then go to advanced search, select subjects and search for the same term. Compare the results.
Find a ‘Browse search’ option for subjects. Browse for any term e.g. Houses. This browse list is populated from the system’s authority list of subject headings. Can you ascertain which subject heading list the terms come from?
Some library management systems use tag clouds and others use facetted searches to display the controlled vocabularies. Look for examples of these in your system or any other catalogue.
So now you have an understanding of the importance of controlled vocabularies, subject headings, and authority files in the library catalogue. Each one significantly enhances the consistency, value, and usability of your library management system and search functionality. You have seen how people search for resources and how different search interfaces produce varying results. Next week we’ll explore classification, Dewey, and call numbers.
Schools Catalogue Information Service: Subject Authority: avoiding the unknown unknown https://scis.edublogs.org/2017/03/27/subject-authority-avoiding-the-unknown-unknown/