Cover images and SCIS

By Renate Beilharz

Renate Beilharz, SCIS cataloguing team leader at ESA, writes about how cover images sourced from SCIS can be used in school libraries.

Cover images have now become a part of most public interfaces to library catalogues, and school libraries use them to promote resources and reading. ESA has been offering cover images to schools as part of their subscription since 2008. This article explains how school library staff can use these without breaching SCIS Terms of Use.

Cover images

Text-only catalogue displays have become a thing of the past. While the old adage ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is wise, the reality is that the cover of a resource makes it look more appealing and does affect reader choice. Using cover images to supplement the text-based catalogue record is an effective method of catching the reader’s eye, as they browse through the virtual shelf.

Cover images in SCIS Data search

Cover images are only one aspect of the content that SCIS Data provides to enhance the usability of its search functionality for physical books and ebooks. Other aspects of this enhanced content include summaries, reviews, and lists of ‘similar books’. ESA sources this content from a number of third-party providers, including LibraryThing for Libraries, Syndetics and Thorpe-Bowker.

SCIS subscribers are able to download most of the cover images displayed in SCIS Data into their own library management systems. ESA has an agreement with one third-party provider that allows ESA to retrieve and store their cover images to supply to schools. SCIS relies on this third party to provide timely and accurate images for as many resources as possible. Any erroneous images received by schools for downloaded records can be reported through [email protected], and ESA will follow up with the provider.

Screenshot of SCIS record details with cover image

Cover images are used in SCIS Data to enhance the usability of its search functionality for physical books and ebooks.

There are a number of options in SCIS Data for downloading images to school library management systems, which are explained in detail on the SCIS website. The most suitable option depends on a school library’s workflow and the particular library management system they use.

SCIS and book cover images

The SCIS Terms of Sale and subscription Terms of Use are very clear on how schools can use the cover images obtained through SCIS Data.

Non-subscribing schools may only view, not copy cover images. Subscribing schools may not pass cover images on to a third party. However, for their own use they may include them:

  • on the school’s online library catalogues
  • on the school's website including blogs, wikis, online newsletters and intranet
  • elsewhere within the school.

Copyright and book cover images

Whether they come from SCIS or elsewhere — such as copied from publisher websites or scanned from a physical item — the use of book cover images must also comply with Australian copyright laws.

Good explanations of copyright laws in relation to cover images can be found on the Australian Copyright Council’s ‘Find an answer’ webpage, which also contains the useful information sheet Educational Institution & Libraries: Using Book Covers and on the Australian Library and Information Association website.

The content of this article is intended only to provide a general overview. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. We attempt to ensure that the content is current but we do not guarantee its currency. You should seek legal or other professional advice if you need any further information.

Renate Beilharz

Renate Beilharz

Cataloguing team leader, SCIS

Education Services Australia