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Welcome to issue 107 of Connections!
Authorities are a very important part of SCIS record creation. Libraries that subscribe to SCIS authorities can download the SCIS Authority Files, and import them to use in their catalogues.
An authority record is the authorised form of a heading, and provides ‘see’ and ‘see also’ references that create links between records. If a library catalogue contains authority files, and these are consistently applied in the records, then users will be able to find all the records that are relevant to their search because the authority record will direct them to the preferred term, even if they use a non-preferred term in their search. For example, if a user is searching for ‘bugs’, they will be directed to resources with the subject heading ‘insects’, which is the preferred term.
SCIS has traditionally provided subject and name authorities, giving users a reference structure to link authorised terms to related terms for subjects and author names. This year, for the first time we are making available a set of series authorities. We hear a lot of feedback from libraries that inconsistencies in series statements are a source of frustration. For example, quite often the series title for works within a series will appear differently on individual works. You can read more about the complexity of series cataloguing in Connections.
The SCIS cataloguers have been working hard to manage the many challenges that these inconsistencies present. We have now created a set of series authorities that will group titles within the same series together in a consistent way.
Series authorities will bring together all the works from the same series under a single preferred series title, even if the series title appears differently on individual works. Series titles can be for either fiction or non-fiction. This first release of series authorities will cover all series for which a title has been published from 2015 onwards. SCIS cataloguers are working to include older records in future authority releases.
Every year, the Australian Government runs the Educational Lending Right (ELR) survey of school libraries. SCIS manages this on behalf of the government. The survey counts the number of copies of listed titles that are held in Australian school libraries, and uses the counts as a basis for payments to the book authors. This is important to authors, as they rely on these payments to continue to create Australian books.
One thousand schools across Australia are selected to participate in ELR each year. SCIS contacts the schools from September and requests that they send us the data files for the survey.
You can read more about the importance of supporting Australian book creators on page 5 of this issue of Connections.