Cataloguing standards: what you see is what you get

By Natasha Campbell

SCIS Cataloguing Officer Natasha Campbell writes about working with publishers and school library staff to create high quality, consistent catalogue records.

Female librarian cataloging a delivery of books

It’s rare to have a day when we don’t receive a small parcel or large box of books delivered to one of the six Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) cataloguing depots.

SCIS cataloguers add approximately 4,500 catalogue records to the database each month, keeping it relevant and current. The resources catalogued come from a range of sources including publishers, booksellers and school libraries.

These hot-off-the-press titles are our best means of creating a quality record that is accurate and compliant with international cataloguing standards. This is important, considering each record is likely to be downloaded by more than 10,000 school subscribers across the world.

SCIS is fortunate and grateful for the support that we receive from our publishing partners. We see it as a ‘win-win’ relationship, offering benefits to both the publisher and SCIS. Having the item in hand ensures early search and discovery of new-release titles, whose records can then be seamlessly downloaded by schools upon receipt. Our focus is on cataloguing new-release, curriculum-related and educational resources, as well as resources for recreational reading and literacy programs suitable for use in school libraries.

The number and regularity of supply of new titles varies from publisher to publisher. Generally, for larger publishers, small parcels or boxes are sent for cataloguing most weeks, with deliveries from smaller publishers sent two to five times a year. SCIS also catalogues titles from publishers wishing to have their titles registered for inclusion in the Educational Lending Right (ELR) scheme. The only cost to the provider is postage.

SCIS is interested in supporting those publishers and distributors that provide review copies for cataloguing purposes. This year, SCIS has been working with publishers to promote their books through the ‘Bag of books’ competition, run through our Facebook ( and Twitter ( accounts. Each month, schools have the opportunity to win a large box of books from a different publisher, by answering a fun question. SCIS staff have enjoyed following the lively responses and conversations prompted by the competition questions. In August, schools had the chance to win a lovely selection of books from Oxford University Press Australia ( by letting us know which author they would love to visit their library. New-release titles are also given out at conferences as prizes and to attendees at our professional learning workshops (

While SCIS offers customers an excellent hit rate, we are always working to improve this. We actively approach new publishers shown by our statistics to be in high demand by SCIS customers, or
publishers that are recommended by schools through feedback from conferences, demonstrations, surveys and emails. If you have purchased a title from a publisher not in SCIS Data that is suitable for school libraries, get in touch with the publisher and ask them to contact us at SCIS directly and we’ll follow up with them for you.

Of course, we could not offer such an extensive database of catalogue records without the vital contribution of schools that regularly send resources to their SCIS depot. If you have a pile of newly purchased titles that are not in SCIS Data, please do not hesitate to send them to SCIS to catalogue. Not only will they be catalogued to our high standards, and therefore keep your database consistent, but you will also be helping other schools by making the record available. Oh, and saving yourself a lot of time!

While the majority of books sent to SCIS come directly from publishers, books from schools always take priority, with all titles catalogued in order of receipt. Cataloguers understand that schools need to have books returned for use as quickly as possible and work hard to ensure this.

For schools that cannot send the physical item for cataloguing, submitting a request online is another option. Ideally suited to schools in remote areas or places too far away from a SCIS depot, online cataloguing requests can be submitted for all items except posters, charts, DVDs, CDs, kits and sets.

Thank you to all those schools who regularly send material to SCIS for cataloguing. Thank you also to those publishers and libraries suppliers who generously supply advance titles to SCIS. We couldn’t do it without you!

Natasha Campbell

Natasha Campbell

Natasha Campbell

Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS)