SCIS is more

By Dr Ben Chadwick

News and updates from the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS)

At the time of writing, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation is unfolding and events are shifting day by day. The school library community is facing many challenges, but despite this we hear daily examples of school library staff sharing suggestions, information and encouragement to their colleagues, and striving to deliver value to teachers, students and families. In so many cases they are stepping up to provide a vital link from the home to the school, a digital ‘common ground’ across the school community, and access to digital resources enabling continuity in learning, literacy, research and the world of the imagination. This is the silver lining we have seen during these trying times, and SCIS is very proud to be part of this passionate and vital school library community.

Many things are changing for SCIS, too. During the pandemic we are operating on a two-fold principle of caring for the health and wellbeing of our staff, and maintaining consistent service delivery to our subscribers.

SCIS staff began working from home in mid-March. Our work adapts well to this situation, and with access to the same tools, technologies and processes we have seen a relatively normal continuity of business. That’s not to say the transition hasn’t invoked a steep learning curve. Working from home brings with it a change in the nature of work. There are positive aspects — in some ways it allows more cognitive space, and opportunities to slow down and take new perspectives.

As you may know, SCIS provides a service to catalogue your recent items that do not have a SCIS record. We are unable to accept deliveries of books from schools until further notice (1), but we are encouraging you to place an online cataloguing request ( We have recently revamped the service to make it quicker and easier to submit these requests. Our usual disclaimer for this service still applies: we cannot guarantee we can create records for all items if we do not have a copy in our hands. You can make it easier for our cataloguers by providing as much detail as possible and, especially, take pictures of the item to attach to your request.

SCIS Facebook page on laptop

SCIS has had to cancel its face-to-face professional learning sessions for the foreseeable future, but we’re planning further webinars to take their place. Keep an eye on our professional learning page

We had also been looking forward to sponsoring and attending some big events this year, including SLANZA and the ASLA Literacy Summits and we are relieved to hear both of these have been postponed, not cancelled.

This may be a good time to undertake tasks like cataloguing and miscellaneous clean-up jobs in the catalogue. Why not take the opportunity to ‘stock up’ on free online content for your catalogue. SCIS regularly creates records for education related websites and apps. Find these on our catalogue ( by clicking on one of the ‘Featured categories’, or by selecting a digital ‘Media type’ in Advanced search. Moving forward, you can update your collection on a regular basis by visiting our Digital content page ( and searching by date to find those resources added since you last visited. Some of you might not have downloaded records from our website before — more than likely you access SCIS via the cataloguing module of your library system. But downloading from our site is just as easy. Save the file of MARC records to your hard drive, then go back in to your library system to upload them. Depending on your system, you may need to unzip the file of records first. Find out about our digital content from this video:

Our customer service team is well set up at home and is there to ensure your access to SCIS remains seamless. You can continue to contact them via phone, email or the ‘Ask us a question’ link on our website. Please sign in to SCIS Data to check your contact details are up to date. This will help us to continue to provide quality service by ensuring you receive all notifications and enabling our customer service team to contact you if required.

We want to thank you for your support and understanding. We are thinking about you and are here to support you in this difficult time.

(1) At the time of writing our cataloguing partners at the NSW Department of Education are still accepting deliveries in line with current health and social distancing advice.

Dr Ben Chadwick

Dr Ben Chadwick

Acting SCIS Manager, on behalf of the SCIS team (6 April 2020)

Education Services Australia