The Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) wishes to acknowledge the Kulin Nation, Traditional Custodians of the land on which our offices are located, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands across Australia, their Elders, Ancestors, cultures and heritage.
SCIS recognises our responsibility to work for national progress in reconciliation and we are committed to continuing to work towards achieving this outcome.
SCIS cataloguing standards recognise the rich and special nature of indigenous communities in society. As an Australian and New Zealand focussed database, we have some unique cataloguing standards that recognise the Māori and Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in our database.
Dewey Decimal Classification and book numbers
To give emphasis and a shorter number to religion, spirituality and creation stories of the Australian Aboriginal people, the permanently unassigned Dewey number 298 is used.
For works where the book number would, if built according to SCIS Standards, be ABO and covers topics on Australian Aboriginal peoples, substitute the letters ABL.
SCIS Subject Headings
Resources on specific indigenous people are entered under their name e.g. Iwi (Māori people), Torres Strait Islanders, Aboriginal peoples.
Māori terms where applicable are used e.g. Waka, Wharenui, Te Reo Māori.
Names of Māori tribes can be added to the list e.g. Tainui (Māori people), Waikato (Māori people).
Reconciliation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia is an allowed heading, along with Stolen generations.
Additionally, the names and languages of every major grouping of Australian Aboriginal peoples have been added.
SCIS Standards are always changing and adapting to meet our school library communities’ expectations. We welcome feedback; the SCIS Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC) is happy to receive and review suggestions from our school library community.
Renate Beilharz Cataloguing team leader, SCIS
Renate has worked for SCIS since 2018. A qualified teacher librarian, she worked in secondary school libraries for 20 years before teaching library and information services at Box Hill TAFE. She is passionate about ensuring that schools receive the quality data needed to empower information discovery for students.
‘I wouldn’t have such a high functioning system if I didn’t have SCIS, because it’s like having an assistant librarian whose job is just to catalogue, and who does that job really well. It’s an essential part of the library catalogue for me.’
‘SCIS makes a consistent catalogue. If all the primary schools around New Zealand are using SCIS, they are all getting the same information. This means that students can move from school to school and know that they are still going to get good, consistent search results.’
‘Yesterday, a student asked for a book on Emmanuel Macron. It will be delivered today, and I will be able to catalogue it within five minutes because SCIS is quick. I’ll have it in her hands this afternoon.’
For more information about the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) please contact email@example.com.
Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitise and archive the world’s cultural works and make them available in ebook form for free. To date, it has over 60,000 free ebooks on its database. On average it adds 50 new ebooks each week.
It’s collection features mostly older literary works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Most were published before 1924, with some published in the decades after.
Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, Homer, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, the Brothers Grimm, Walt Whitman, William Shakespeare, and Emily Bronte are all available in multiple ebook forms for free.
In addition to novels, poetry, short stories and drama, the database also has cookbooks, reference works and issues of periodicals. You can also find a smaller collection of sheet music, audiobooks, still pictures, and moving pictures, including footage of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.
Although Project Gutenberg primarily has works of literature from Western culture, there are also significant numbers in many other languages. Non-English languages most represented are French, German, Finnish, Dutch, Italian, and Portuguese.
You can use the Search box to look for a particular title or browse titles by a favourite author.
The Bookshelves allow you to browse by genre, age group, and topic. And if you are undecided where to begin there are Top 100 lists of titles to get you started.
Project Gutenberg and SCIS
SCIS has made catalogue records for nearly 400 of these titles.
The best way to locate them in SCIS Data is to do an advanced search of the phrase ‘Project Gutenberg’, choosing Publisher field, and the exact phrase from the drop-down options.
Each record contains a convenient link to the resource on the Project Gutenberg database. Once at the resource, you should find multiple ebook formats to access.
Mavis Heffernan, SCIS Cataloguer, explores special book numbers.
Book numbers are the set of three letters found in the SCIS call number. SCIS records all contain call numbers:
Fiction items are given the collection code F and a Book number
Non-fiction resources are given a classification number using Dewey Decimal Classification and a Book number
Book numbers usually comprise the first three letters of the first filing word of the main entry, i.e. author or title (where there is no author or only an editor).
However, special book numbers are employed for certain classes of material. Some special book numbers serve as a shelving device for biographies or to place works such as commentaries and adaptations with the original text. Other special book numbers are a result of alphabetical sub-arrangement within Dewey classes.
Special book numbers are used in the following cases:
Works about the subject
Individual biography, Family biography, Musical group biography
SPR (Bruce Springsteen by Marty Monroe)
BRO (Everyman’s companion to the Brontes by Barbara Lloyd)
Commentaries and critical works
BEA (The complete guide to the music of The Beatles, by John Robertson)
BRO (Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, by Frances McCarthy)
Abridgements and adaptations of literary works, including film adaptations
AND (The ugly duckling [by Hans Andersen] retold by Brenda Parkes
MIT (Gone with the wind [videorecording of the motion picture based on the book by Margaret Mitchell])
Dewey instructions for sub-arrangement
Special Book numbers are used in all ADDC15 and DDC23 classes where the Dewey Editors give the instruction to sub-arrange alphabetically. For example specific named automobiles, specific television programs, specific computers, computer programming languages and computer programs. Also, special book numbers are provided in the schedules for DDC23 numbers for William Shakespeare:
629.2222 MG (Specific named automobiles, e.g. MG) DDC23
791.4572 STA (Specific television program, e.g. Star Trek) DDC23
004.165 MAC (Specific named computer, e.g. Macintosh) ADDC15 and DDC23
H (Lamb’s tales from Shakespeare) DDC23
P3 (The merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare) DDC23
Extraordinary special book number – ABL
It is SCIS policy to use this special book number for works where the book number would, if title main entry and covering topics on Australian Aboriginal peoples, be ABO:
305.89915 ABL (Aboriginal studies)
635.089915 ABL (Aboriginal bush gardens: teacher and student information and examples)
We hope this offers an insight into how the SCIS team creates high quality, consistent catalogue records for school libraries. Happy cataloguing!
The unprecedented and devastating fires across many parts of Australia have caused untold grief and loss and will continue to have long-lasting traumatic effects on those directly and indirectly involved.
Inspired by the Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries list of books about dealing with disaster for children, here are 20 resources selected by the SCIS team to help school library staff support students and assist conversations about bushfire and natural disasters.
In 2017, the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) announced the release of SCIS RESTful APIs as part of a major infrastructure upgrade. For those who are part of the SCIS community, you would have lived through the upgrade, as outlined here and here. This work was driven by our commitment to improving user experience, and preparing SCIS for a library world that is changing rapidly. SCIS APIs are at the forefront of this evolution.
API stands for Application Programming Interface. In very simple terms, APIs allow different applications to send and receive data in order to communicate with each other. (This video neatly and swiftly explains the concept.) APIs are a common and integral part of your online activity. To understand why SCIS has implemented APIs, let’s start with a brief look at some global library standards.
For over fifty years, the library industry has used MARC (Machine Readable Cataloguing) for encoding data, with the Z39.50 protocol used for delivering it. These standards are widespread, reliable and consistent.
However, these standards also pre-date modern web technology, making it difficult for library systems to interact with other systems in the school environment. MARC is a custom data format delivered via a custom Z39.50 protocol, used in a world that is increasingly reliant on interoperability.
SCIS has been using MARC to encode data since our inception in 1984, and we will continue to do so. Yet, the days of delivering catalogue data in one bespoke format are behind us. SCIS APIs allow school libraries to move to a modern web-based standard to upload catalogue records.
Technical benefits of the SCIS APIs include:
Modern communication: APIs use the familiar HTTP(S) instead of the custom Z39.50 communications protocol to transfer data. Applications that use Z39.50 protocol need to use special software, and it is not always permitted nor easy to set up within the school environment. As many of our school users are not able to utilise Z39.50 within their school, APIs provide a new means of accessing catalogue records securely and efficiently.
Data formats: SCIS APIs provide the ability to search and retrieve records in multiple formats (MARC, JSON and MODS XML). This can make it simpler for catalogue data to be used in modern systems, through providing a more common and familiar data format for software developers to work with.
For the curious amongst our audience, MODS stands for Metadata Object Description Schema: a contemporary standard maintained by the Library of Congress. Use of MODS has the added benefit of allowing for enriched SCIS content to be included in the catalogue record – see “New vocabularies” below.
Integration opportunities: SCIS are working closely with several publishers to explore further possibilities for data integration between our APIs and digital content providers.
There are some extra content benefits, too:
New vocabularies: Using the MODS data format allows for download of extra vocabularies that are not available in MARC. Depending on the title, this data will include audience level, learning area, resource type, and fiction vs non-fiction status. There’s been some pretty complex work done to map curricula and content sources to existing catalogue records. We believe that including the educational use and purpose of resources further enriches the value of library catalogues for students and educators, and we will continue to develop this feature of our database.
Customised download: APIs can make it simpler for users to customise their download preferences, including the option to include or exclude the ScOT vocabulary, solving one of our most common help desk queries.
Digital content: The rich and light-weight API search service makes it ideally suited to adding SCIS as a source for federated searches of relevant, curated online content such as websites and apps. Including digital content greatly enhances the search experience and access to resources for students and educators.
So why is all of this so important? Making resources manageable and discoverable is what we do. We want SCIS data to be modern, useful and interoperable. We want to make our users life easier and we want to make it simpler for vendors to support this. Libraries have consistently led the way in best practice information management, and we’re pleased to contribute one more step in the revolution.
The SCIS team would like to thank library management system vendors and other catalogue providers who have worked so closely with us over the last few years to advise, test and implement the APIs. Together we’re part of a dynamic library industry: making complex information simple, searchable and beautiful.
SCIS is a business unit of Education Services Australia, a not-for-profit government-owned developer of educational technology solutions. For further information, please visit www.scisdata.com.
For anyone who may follow us on social media, or has chatted to the team recently, you may be aware that SCIS keeps talking about our ‘big infrastructure upgrade’. This is the result of three years of quantitative and qualitative market research – thank you once again to everyone who has provided feedback along the way.
So here’s a little more detail about what a SCIS infrastructure upgrade means, and why we’re so excited.
Have you ever wondered why some SCIS records contain two similar or identical subject headings? SCIS cataloguers use two controlled vocabularies: the SCIS Subject Heading List (SCISSHL) and the Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT). You’ll notice that the codes ‘scisshl’ or ‘scot’ appear in parentheses after each heading, representing which vocabulary the heading came from. Subscribers who access records through SCISWeb have the option to have headings from both vocabularies in their downloaded records, or just their preferred one.
These two controlled vocabularies serve complementary functions. Simply put, ScOT terms are informed by curriculum language and structure, whereas the SCISSHL is informed by topics in the literature itself: its headings reflect the content of the SCIS database.
The benefit of using both is that if one person – likely, in this case, to be a teacher or school library professional – enters search terms inspired by the curriculum, and another person – such as a student – searches with no consideration of the curriculum, both will find relevant resources. Oftentimes there is an overlap between SCISSHL and ScOT terms that can describe resources (see image to the left); to maintain consistency, both terms are always used.
While our cataloguers include terms from both vocabularies, you have the option to select a preferred subject heading format.
Once you’ve logged into SCISWeb, you can select ‘My Profile’ from the navigation bar, select ‘Advanced options’, and then choose your preferred subject heading format (you can press the ‘Help me choose which format’ if further clarification is needed), and then press ‘SAVE’.
Please note that the instructions above only change your settings on SCISWeb, and will not affect the format of records imported directly into your library management system through Z39.50 (otherwise known as rapid cataloguing or z-cataloguing).
When using z39.50 to import records directly into your system, some library systems allow you to choose between SCISSHL or ScOT terms. Others extract the ScOT headings and put them in special fields, treating them as keywords rather than specialised subject headings. Still others import both sets of headings and do not give you a choice in the matter. If the source of the heading is not displayed (‘scisshl’ or ‘scot’) it may appear that you have duplicate headings in your record, whereas one heading is from ScOT and the other from SCISSHL.
There has been some discussion at SCIS about how schools treat picture books that rhyme. It has been SCIS practice to classify stories in rhyme picture books as poetry, with each book allocated a Dewey Decimal number. However, feedback in workshops and surveys indicate that this did not reflect the preferred classification in schools.
The Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC) meets regularly to discuss and make revisions to the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry, and this issue was recently discussed during a teleconference with the committee. The decision was made on behalf of the ISSC to classify stories in rhyme picture books as fiction, intending to make browsing easier for students and staff in schools. This will also save you the time spent changing the classifications manually.
We want to make sure our catalogue records continue to meet the needs of our subscribers. Can you spare ten minutes to complete this survey so we can understand how resources are being managed in school libraries?
All survey respondents will go in the draw to win a $250 book card.