SCIS is more

By Ben Chadwick


This is my last ‘SCIS is more’ as SCIS Manager. By the time you read this, I will be in a new and exciting role at ESA as Manager of Research and Information Services.

We welcome Caroline Ramsden to the role of SCIS Manager. Caroline arrives at SCIS with extensive experience in library information systems, having worked in management and technology roles with OCLC, Stonnington Library & Information Service, and Eastern Regional Libraries Corporation. Welcome, Caroline!

I have enjoyed the past three years, and I’m proud of some of our big achievements during that time. Our new website, scisdata.com, was in gestation for two years, and I’m honoured to have made a contribution to it. Working with Frankie Yip, Jesse Licot, Deepak Vasa, and the rest of the ESA technology team was a very enjoyable learning curve.

The site not only looks good, but makes your life easier with improved ordering, searching, customer support, and invoicing. It truly brings SCIS into the 21st century and, more importantly, sets us up to innovate into the next decade.

We have instituted some significant changes in standards and vocabularies, including to series authorities, children’s rhyming books, genre headings, diacritics, ongoing RDA implementation, description of resource type, and mapping to key learning areas.

I’ve enjoyed working with our partners in the library system industry and have learnt a lot in the process. We have a symbiotic relationship, and, when we can work together, the system provider, the data provider, and the customer all stand to benefit.

Very early in my role, circumstance threw myself and Rachel Elliott (ESA’s Director of Metadata and Library Services) into running a three-hour SCIS workshop for the first time, with one hour to prepare. From that point, I realised that I thoroughly enjoyed talking about SCIS with our subscribers, and in those settings I have had many, many lovely conversations with you, our subscribers in Australia and New Zealand. I have also been honoured to represent SCIS — and talk it up — at IASL in Tokyo and Long Beach.

Finally, I have had the privilege of working with the SCIS team — experienced cataloguers, knowledgeable technical staff, talented marketing and content staff, and very professional customer service staff. Caroline can feel very fortunate. I am especially indebted to our Director, Rachel, who has been the captain sailing us through these seas and giving me enough rope to keep the sails raised (and risk doing what people tend to do when they are given ‘enough rope’).

As exciting as the new SCIS website is, it is just an enabler. It will enable SCIS to offer our subscribers improved services and better discovery of resources, and to adapt when facing the challenges to come. Technical changes in the international library world have been glacial but, as with global warming, are beginning to manifest at a surprising rate. My new role will work with Caroline and Rachel to conduct research, explore opportunities, and develop solutions to a range of technical and operational challenges. You, the SCIS subscribers, will be the beneficiaries of that work. Very exciting times, indeed.

Over the past three years SCIS has changed from being the service that provides MARC records to Australian and New Zealand school libraries to being an international provider of gold-standard bibliographic data for the K–12 education sector. Importantly, SCIS is not a faceless corporate entity, but an advocate for the best interests of teachers and learners when it comes to discovering great contemporary content for reading, research, literacy, and learning. I look forward to continuing to contribute to it all.

Ben Chadwick

Manager of Research and Information Services

Education Services Australia