CC News

By Schools Catalogue Information Service

Curriculum Corporation and SCIS: where did we come from and why are we here?

The SCIS Unit at Curriculum Corporation often receives calls querying the financial basis on which it operates. The Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) is managed by Curriculum Corporation which is an independent education support organisation owned by all Australian State, Territory and Commonwealth Ministers of Education. Curriculum Corporation is a not for profit company, and receives minimal government funding. Curriculum Corporation, and the SCIS Unit within it, is required to operate on a cost recovery basis. The state agencies that undertake the cataloguing on behalf of SCIS receive some payment from SCIS for doing so.

SCIS is a cooperative venture of all States and Territories, the Commonwealth, the National Catholic Education Commission, and the National Council of Independent Schools. SCIS was established to provide a service with the aim of reducing the cost and duplication of effort required by Teacher Librarians in cataloguing resources in schools. It costs over $1 million annually to run SCIS. In most state education departments, a SCIS Agency locates and catalogues resources for the SCIS database. The database contains about 600 000 records of books, audio-visual materials and computer programs. Approximately 3 000 records are added each month -35 000 per year. Along with cataloguing resources, the national SCIS Agencies meet regularly with Curriculum Corporation to develop and update the subjects headings list and to review the SCIS cataloguing standards to ensure that SCIS records are meeting the ever changing needs of Australian students.

While SCIS will attain its cost-recovery aim, it retains its community service obligations (for example the lower subscription rate for small schools) and probity requirements appropriate for an organisation owned by Ministers. SCIS is not part of any government department, nor does it operate purely for commercial purposes. But we are here to help you!

For more details see History of SCIS, under What is SCIS, on the SCIS website at

Handy Hints

SCISWeb hints.

The single most important factor in troubleshooting SCISWeb relates to the cache. The cache is a temporary file which stores copies of web pages you have previously located. Often a school may think it is looking at the live SCISWeb page only to discover that they are in fact looking at an 'older' copy of the page which has been stored in the cache. The cache is not a function of SCISWeb but a facility in other software. The cache operates at three different levels: the browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer) level, the network level, and the Internet Service Provider (ISP) level. The difficulties manifest in a variety of ways and are not always readily identifiable as cache issues.

To identify if you are experiencing cache problems you can connect the Curriculum Corporation web page at http://

This test page displays the date and time. If you click on the link Check Again and the new time is not displayed, then the page is being retrieved from the cache.

Check your browser software (Netscape or Internet Explorer) to ensure that you have chosen the option to revisit the page each time you connect to a site.

Clear the cache and close down the browser. You may need to repeat the procedure. Consult with your school computer support for more detailed assistance.

Check your network configuration in relation to cache functions. Consult with your school computer support.

Check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) regarding cache functions. Consult with you school computer support and/or ISP.

When downloading records from SCISWeb, you do not have to choose the Download Orders screen. You may download from anywhere the Your Data list appears with the usmarc.dat. link; the Create Orders screen, Upload Order File screen or the Download Orders screen.

SCISCO hints.
'Expired' Message

If you receive a message that SCISCO has expired check that your PC clock is correct. This is a Windows function -check with your school computer support for more detailed assistance.

RECON/Rapid Retrospective and Catalogue Card Customers

From Monday 23 March 1998, all RECON and Rapid Retrospective customers are asked to send their orders to:

RECON/Rapid Service
Curriculum Corporation
PO Box 177
VIC 3053.

Please note:
At the end of 1998 the RECON/Rapid services will cease -the last processing date is 3 December 1998.

The production of Catalogue Cards will also cease at the end of 1998.

'Copyright Again'

The article about copyright in the last issue of Connections (Issue 24) caused some uncertainties in the minds of some of our customers and this article will clarify what we were trying to say.

SCIS is a work of intellectual property protected by Copyright Law. A great deal of time and money is applied to create and maintain SCIS and it is this investment of public money in intellectual property which is protected by copyright.

Prior to 1998, 'copy cataloguing' and 'screen dumps' of SCIS records were abuses of copyright. Under our previous product and pricing structure, customers were expected to subscribe to our searching products and to then order and pay for the SCIS catalogue records they wanted for their library catalogue.

Customers who purchased the searching products and then copied the records into their library catalogues, instead of purchasing the actual records from SCIS, were abusing copyright.

From this year, with the introduction of our new downloading products and the abolition of individual record payments, the incidence of 'copy cataloguing' should disappear as schools should no longer need or want to physically copy records because they can now instantly download the SCIS records onto a disk and import them into their library system. 11, for some reason, a current subscriber to SCIS cannot download records, it is permissible for the school to 'screen dump' and copy the record into their school's catalogue. It is not permissible for the subscriber school to share the SCIS data or the SCIS products with any other school or organisation -this is a breach of copyright.

A licence agreement will be included in SCIS products in the future (just like the software licences you find in proprietary shrink wrapped software of the shelf). Curriculum Corporation, like every other intellectual property owner, needs to protect against unlawful use which diminishes its subscriptions, increases costs for other users and therefore affects its ability to maintain the integrity of SCIS.

SCIS Customer Service -Helping us to help you

The release of SCISWeb and SCISCO during February and March attracted an unprecedented 200-250 calls per day to the SCIS Customer Service. We are pleased to report that from late March the call rate declined significantly as customers gained confidence in using SCISWeb and SCISCO and the products proved easy to use.

The help calls revealed a vast range of expertise and knowledge from basic questions such as, 'What is a PC?', to the more advanced, 'How can I configure Wingate to accept Port8181?'; from queries seeking advice about work flow procedures to cataloguing standards. For many customers this is the first venture into Internet services, for other subscribers this is just one more step in delivering an efficient, technology based information service to their schools.

To assist in overcoming problems and the isolation felt by many Teacher Librarians we hope to advise on strategies to assist you firstly, to avoid difficulties and secondly, to identify the source of a problem when and if it occurs. This in turn will aid SCIS staff to provide a timely and effective help desk/ information service.

Preventing problems

  1. Read the manual.
    It is surprising how many calls we receive which can be solved by reading the manuals that come with SCISWeb and SCISCO. The manuals are not long or complicated documents. Both have been developed and designed by SCIS staff to provide TLs with a brief and easy guide to accessing and using each product.
    Please note that both SCISCO and SCISWeb manuals address the product functionality and that SCIS staff are not in a position to offer advice on the library automation system functions (loading of records), hardware (including barcode readers) or PC/Macintosh software.
  2. Document your own procedures.
    To assist other staff to use the products during your absence, formulate detailed instructions. It is not uncommon to receive help calls which start 'The person who normally does this is away/has left/gone on leave .. .'. As SCIS staff are unfamiliar with each school's computer setup it is impossible to advise on local configurations. To save you time the SCISCO and SCISWeb manuals can be copied from the SCIS Internet site to be incorporated into your own school library procedures. To access the manuals, enter the URL: then choose SCIS, then choose SCIS Products. Click on SCISCO Manual or SCISWeb Manual.
    Saving the manual to a file is a function of your browser. From the browser File menu choose the option to Save, and then Save As a text file.
  3. Stay abreast of school information technology developments.
    Often school computer facilities are shared. Browser software, computers, networks can all be configured differently and Internet Service Provider contracts may change. Request that you are informed about all IT changes.
  4. Share knowledge with other information technology professionals.
  • Join/form local teacher library networks.
  • Subscribe to OZTL NET - a listserve on the Internet to which over 2000 Teacher-Librarians seek and contribute ideas, advice, questions, etc. For information on subscribing to this service visit the OZTL_NET Home Page at http://
  • Attend conferences/workshops/ demonstrations.

Identifying the problem

Before calling the SCIS Information Service try identifying issues which may be relevant to the problem. This will assist you in understanding whether the problem you are experiencing is a SCIS product or data problem.

  1. Develop a check-list of questions as part of the library procedures. For example
    - What changes to hardware and software have been made since the last time you used the product?
    - Is the hardware plugged in and switched on?
    - Can you use and/or do you experience similar problems when using other CDs or connecting to other Internet sites?
    - Can you utilise SCISCO or SCISWeb using other hardware within the school at another location (eg, at home)? If the answer is Yes, then clearly the problem is a local issue.
  2. Check the Curriculum Corporation home page on the Internet for Frequently Asked Questions relating to SCISWeb and SCISCO. Enter the URL: http://, choose SCIS, then choose SCIS Products, then click on either:
    SCISCO Frequently Asked Questions or
    - SCISWeb Frequently Asked Questions.
    Each list details questions and answers. We recommend that you print the FAQs regularly.
  3. For SCISWeb users check Message of the Day each time you connect. This will alert you to changes/updates to the manuals and Frequently Asked Questions, and any scheduled server maintenance requiring SCISWeb to be temporarily unavailable.
  4. Complete the log sheet (available on the Curriculum Corporation home page) with all the relevant details. SCIS staff will need to know these details when you call SCIS Information Service. Note how the problem was resolved and file the log sheet for future reference.
  5. Organise a phone extension in front of your computer facilities. This will allow us to step you through procedures.

SCIS Customer Service staff look forward to assisting you to maximise the benefits of SCIS services and products We can be contacted on freecall 1800 337 405 or Email: [email protected].


Schools Catalogue Information Service