Consistency Matters

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

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

Cataloguing rules for resource description have changed

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

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 This has been replaced by three new RDA MARC fields — 336, 337 and 338 — for information on content, media and carrier.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 It has been replaced by MARC field 264, which makes a distinction between the functions of publication, distribution, manufacture, and copyright.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

The implementation of diacritics

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

Changes in SCIS standards

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

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

Publisher inconsistencies

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

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

Series inconsistencies

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

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

Changes to subject headings

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

Classification inconsistencies

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

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

Prepublication and catalogue request items

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

Consistency matters

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

By Mavis Heffernan, SCIS cataloguer

Acknowledging Indigenous communities and culture in SCIS Data

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.

The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2020 is #InThisTogether2020, and in these trying times, this has never been more relevant.

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 Subject Headings SCIS Subject Headings

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.

#InThisTogether2020 #NRW2020

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.

New and revised SCIS Subject Headings

The purpose of SCIS Subject Headings is to provide a controlled language approach suitable for subject access to the library catalogue for primary and secondary school students. This list is used by SCIS cataloguers when selecting or devising appropriate subject headings for educational and curriculum resources catalogued onto the SCIS database. The list can be used by schools that subscribe to SCIS to assist their library staff in conforming to SCIS standards when adding subject headings to local resources.

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

New SCIS subject headings

  • Fake news

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

Changed subject headings

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

Changed non-allowed terms:

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

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

New and revised SCIS Subject Headings

The purpose of SCIS Subject Headings is to provide a controlled language approach suitable for subject access to the library catalogue for primary and secondary school students. This list is used by SCIS cataloguers when selecting or devising appropriate subject headings for educational and curriculum resources catalogued onto the SCIS database. The list can be used by schools that subscribe to SCIS to assist their library staff in conforming to SCIS standards when adding subject headings to local resources.

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

New subject headings

Anxiety disorders

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

Streaming technology

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

Recessions

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

Financial crises

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

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

Global Financial Crisis, 2008-2009

Children–Mental health

Surveillance

Kolkata (India)

Removed subject heading Calcutta (India)

Revised subject headings

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

Subject Authority: avoiding the unknown unknown

We recently had a query from a user who asked us to explain the value of SCIS Subject Headings and the ScOT vocabulary — and the rather tricky subject of authority control. This query often comes up in our inbox, at conferences and at professional learning sessions, so now feels like a good time for a blog post on the matter.

SCIS vs ScOT — which to choose?
Firstly, we do not consider this an either/or scenario; nor do 100% of our users. SCIS Subject Headings have been developed and refined to support best-practice for resource management in education. SCIS records provide the foundation of consistent, best-quality metadata, to which ScOT headings can be a valuable supplement.

The SCIS Subject Headings vocabulary dates back to the early 1980s and is a pre-coordinated subject headings list. It is intended as an educationally-focused alternative to the Library of Congress Subject Headings. SCIS subscribers can choose to supplement SCIS Subject Headings with ScOT, a post-coordinated vocabulary of topical headings.

Continue reading Subject Authority: avoiding the unknown unknown

SCISSHL and ScOT: Why use both?

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.

Seasons_SH_MARCviewThe 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.

SCISWeb

MyProfileAdvancedOptionsWhile 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’.

Z39.50

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.

If you would like to know more about the differences between the two, see ‘ScOT in SCIS – more of the same … or different?’ and ‘The relationship between SCIS Subject Headings and ScOT’.

Downloading SCIS Authority Files

SCIS catalogue records contain SCIS’s authorized name and subject headings. However, on their own, records will not display the See and See Also references that provide the optimal search experience for your students and staff. SCIS Authority Files provide these references, as well as providing all authorized forms of names and subjects used as access points in SCIS catalogue records. Installing them will enable your library management system to automatically create cross references, which will be visible in your library catalogue.

Schools can subscribe to SCIS Authority Files for only $90 per year, which includes both Name and Subject authorities. SCIS release a new version of the Authority Files twice a year, usually in March and August.

In this post we describe the benefits of installing SCIS Authority Files and provide advice on selecting and installing them, using two systems to demonstrate: Access-It and Softlink’s Oliver. You can find more information about SCIS Authority Files on the authority files help page. You can also watch our new Authority Files video…

SCIS Authority Files from SCIS on Vimeo.

 

SCIS Name Authorities

SCIS Name Authorities specify the authorized name of authors, illustrators, and other creators, be they corporate (eg “Primary English Teaching Association (Australia)”) or individual. This includes See references for non-authorized names. For example, if SCIS Name Authorities are installed and one of your staff search for “PETAA”, they will be directed to all works by “Primary English Teaching Association (Australia)”. Without Name Authorities, they may get no results.

Not all systems support name authorities, so check with your vendor before installing them.

SCIS Subject Authorities

If a user searches on the term “Hurricanes” without a See reference to direct them to the authorized SCIS subject heading, “Cyclones”, they may believe that the library does not contain any resources about hurricanes. See Also references exist between related terms and are important for assisting the user to find resources on similar subjects, such as directing users from “Cyclones” to the related topic “Tornadoes”.

SCIS Subject Authority files include authorized names as subjects. That is, whilst SCIS Name Authorities specify the name “Carroll, Lewis” as an author of a work, SCIS Subject Authorities specify “Carroll, Lewis” as a subject for when a work is about Lewis Carroll.

Selecting Authority Files – Full versus Reference Only

On the SCIS Authority Files page, schools need to choose which files they require: the SCIS Full Authority Files or the SCIS Reference Only Authority Files.

The Full Authority files contain all authorised SCIS headings, including those without See and See Also references, such as “Science fiction films – History and criticism”. This may be useful for local cataloguing of resources not catalogued by SCIS, such as vertical file materials. Use the full list of authorised headings in your library system to ensure consistency with headings used in SCIS records.

If most of your catalogue records are sourced from SCIS and you do little or no original cataloguing, you may decide you only need the significantly smaller SCIS Reference Only Authority Files. These contain only those headings that have See and/or See Also references. We recommend that all schools install at least the Reference Only Subject Authority Files.

SCIS Authority File download options
Download options on the SCIS Authority File page

Downloading SCIS Authority Files

Twice a year, when SCIS release new versions of the Authority Files, go to the SCIS Authority Files page, select the correct files for you, and download them.

The next step is to import them into your library management system. Read your system’s manual carefully for the settings to choose when importing the SCIS subject authority files.

Imports should be regarded as an overnight housekeeping task as the download may take several hours.

Access-It authority import
Steps for importing authority files in Access-It

 

In current generation systems, many of the steps will be similar.

  • In Oliver, go to Management > Import and select the MARC radio button. It is crucial to select “MARC-21 Authority” in the “MARC format” field is crucial.
  • In Access-It, click Cataloguing > Imports > Import MARC Authorities.

    Oliver authority file import
    Options for uploading authority files in Oliver

Your system may require you to make some or all of the following decisions:

  • Choose how to deal with existing, duplicate authority records: Unless you want to retain any Subject Authorities you have created, it is important to replace the existing subject authorities with the new SCIS authorities. In Oliver, select “Replace existing resources”.
  • Specify which authorities you are loading: In Oliver it is important to select “Load subjects” otherwise the subject authorities won’t be loaded. If you are importing Name Authorities, do not select “Load Authors into Subject Authority File” because SCIS Subject Authority files already contain author names as subjects.
  • Specify file encoding: MARC authorities will be encoded in UTF-8.  Select this in Oliver, and leave Access-It as “auto-detect”.
Access-It authority file options
Authority file options in Access-IT

SCIS Asks 2013: The future of vocabularies

Education Services Australia manages multiple vocabularies including SCIS Subject Headings List and ScOT. At the SCIS consultation SCIS Asks, Ben Chadwick, ESA Metadata analyst outlined how vocabularies assist search.

     Australian Education Vocabularies >      Schools Online Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT)

Australian Education Vocabularies >
Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT)
  • Search expansion and faceting
  • Navigation and browsing
  • Collections Redirects (“See”)
  • Related topics (“See also”)
  • Mapping between repositories

ScOT as Linked Open Data

Ben outlined how ScOT  is published as open linked data and can be linked to other unique identifiers, inside and outside the vocabulary. It is available for consumption on the open web and is expressed in a standard, machine-readable format (RDF).

ScOT linking curriculum to resources

To date ScOT has been used to tag  20,000 resources  in Scootle  and 350,000 resources  in SCIS MARC records.  The Softlink survey 2013 showed that schools want curriculum alignment.  Aligning existing resources to the Australian Curriculum is one of three top priorities of school library staff. Future decisions  for SCIS around curriculum alignment  include

  • dealing with pre-2006 records without ScOT terms,
  • non-subject vocabularies,
  • increased records for digital resources,
  • retrospective updates of schools’ SCIS records
  • viability of Linked Open Data authorities as a new model for authority files.

Discussion points

Many have indicated that they would love to be able to search by curriculum in order to find related resources and that this would be a huge time saver. Suggestions included looking at the 658 MARC field to introduce a curriculum element.

It was noted that there was demand for automated  updating of bibliographic records. This would require a new process to ensure that library management systems can handle requests.   It was agreed that the ability to refresh bibliographic and authority records is an important one and further discussion is needed about whether models of linked data could address this problem.

SCIS asks: ScOT and subject access

In the subject access session of the SCIS consultation on 4 December 2012, Les Kneebone Project Manager of the Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) presented an exciting overview of recent developments in the ScOT thesaurus. Key features that position ScOT for the future include:

  • its ongoing development with input from cataloguers, curriculum developers, subject matter experts and users
  • its use to describe the machine-readable Australian Curriculum
  • its linked data API facilitating automatic semantic relationships
  • its translation into languages including Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Māori
  • its use to describe a wide range of resources through the National Digital Learning Resource Network and SCIS

Discussion followed as to future directions for SCIS in the area of subject access.

Les Kneebone
Les Kneebone presents an overview of ScOT

The ScOT in SCIS project commenced in 2006 when the thinking was that keyword searching would become the pre-eminent means of resource retrieval. Since then SCIS has offered schools the option of downloading both SCIS Subject Headings and ScOT terms in their catalogue records. The challenge is how to manage and display both SCIS subject headings and ScOT terms in a meaningful way for users in order to exploit the inferred links between resources tagged with ScOT terms that match a curriculum tagged with ScOT terms.

Also discussed was an alternative scenario of transition from use of SCIS Subject Headings to ScOT terms and how schools would manage this process.

SCIS asks

SCIS is conducting a consultation workshop in Melbourne on Tuesday 4 December 2012 from 9.00-1.00pm. The consultation aims to engage SCIS and its partners in discussion about future priorities in our support of school libraries.

Spiral sculpture
Spiral, Rena Voronoff, 2007
Photo by Michael Jongen

Twitter hashtag for the day: #scisasks

9.00am Welcome, SCIS update and consultation goals

9.15am Strategic directions

9.45am Resource Description and Access

  • Introduction to RDA and its benefits for education libraries (Renate Beilharz, Box Hill TAFE)
  • Recommended changes to SCIS Standards for Cataloguing (Pam Kadow, SCIS Cataloguing Team Leader)
  • Discussion and questions
    Outcome: Resolutions on RDA implementation dates and process

11.00am Morning Tea

11.30am ScOT and subject access in SCIS

  • Subject authorities looking forward
  • Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) in library systems
  • Australian Curriculum alignment opportunities
  • Discussion and questions
    Outcome: Resolutions on research required and timeline

12.15pm Integrating digital collections

  • Challenges of collection building and workflows
  • Priorities for cataloguing digital content
  • Discussion and questions
    Outcome: Recommendations on priority areas for SCIS services

1.00pm SCIS Consultation closes
Participants are encouraged to stay for a light lunch and then join delegates at the keynote session and opening reception for the IDEA 2012 conference at the Sofitel, 25 Collins Street Melbourne.

2.00pm Keynote: The science and technology of learning, Professor Erik Duval, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
3.15pm Afternoon tea
3.45pm Panel: Challenges and opportunities for digital learning including Rhyan Bloor, Digital Education Branch, DEEWR; Rodney Spark, eWorks; Kerri-Lee Krause, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), University of Western Sydney and Bevan Doyle, Chief Information Officer, Department of Education Western Australia

5.30pm IDEA2012 Reception and Networking

6.30pm IDEA 2012 Day 1 close

Contact scisinfo@esa.edu.au for further information