SCIS as a resource selection aid

By Nicole Richardson

While SCIS’s key business is providing catalogue records, the SCIS catalogue is also a fantastic tool to help you find new resources for your school library. Nicole Richardson shares how to do this.

When a teacher approaches you about finding resources for their upcoming unit, where is the first place you look? Perhaps you perform a quick Google 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?

The SCIS catalogue contains over 1.5 million resources; it is a comprehensive, diverse database of educationally focused resources, spanning various publishers and resource types. Many catalogue records — primarily for books — provide additional information such as a resource summary, author notes, other editions and similar titles to assist with your selection.

Where does SCIS find resources for cataloguing?

SCIS cataloguers add approximately 4,500 catalogue records to the database each month. The resources come from a range of sources, including publishers, booksellers and school libraries. We are always on the lookout for publishers with whom to partner. We even find inspiration for the SCIS catalogue on social media. How many times have you saved links such as ‘The top 50 educational websites’ but forgotten to come back to them?

How do I use SCIS as a selection aid?

Two new features of the SCIS Data website support the use of our catalogue in this way.

Search tags to increase discoverability

The SCIS catalogue now displays additional terms to support resource discoverability in schools. These are not embedded in the MARC record itself, but are value-adding terms inferred from the MARC data. These terms, classified as learning area, resource type or audience level, have been developed to enhance resource discovery. This new search capability is on top of the usual SCIS Subject Headings, which is an effective tool to limit your search by subject.

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.

Saved lists to support content curation

The SCIS catalogue now 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.

Following the scenario above, say you are starting to put together a list of resources on World War I for the history teacher. You may wish to use the SCIS catalogue to see what resources are in use by other schools. Rather than downloading one record at a time, you can select the ‘Add record’ icon (an icon displaying a plus sign over a folder) to build your list. Just remember to save or download the list at the end of your session!

By curating lists of quality, educationally focused digital content that you can import into your library catalogue, you are helping to build the foundations for digital literacy in your school. In addition to using the SCIS catalogue to curate digital content, you could also build ‘wish lists’ for physical items.

Next time someone asks you for resources that you don’t already have in your library, consider using SCIS to point you in the right direction.

Nicole Richardson

Nicole Richardson

Communications & Projects Coordinator, SCIS

Education Services Australia