1999 SCIS Conference Report: Planning for 1999-2000

By Kevin Grove

On 29-30 March the State SCIS agencies and Curriculum Corporation met in Sydney for a strategic review of the Schools Catalogue Information Service.

The Conference deliberations included input from teacher librarians and other educationalists. The Conference felt that issues about the technology on which the service is based have largely been resolved, and that it is now appropriate to look at maximising the usefulness and value for money of the service. The Conference focused on three themes: quality, customer service, and cost effectiveness; and discussed a number of enhancements to the service and several service management issues.

A trial of cataloguing Internet websites was endorsed. The trial will begin soon, for a duration of two school terms. Each agency will catalogue a number of websites according to agreed standards, and a number of schools will be selected to assess the effectiveness and usefulness of including these records in local library catalogue systems. The result of the trial will determine whether SCIS will continue to catalogue websites and, if so, what standards would apply for selection, cataloguing and 'cleansing' of outdated links (both on Voyager and on school library automation systems). Library automation system vendors will be kept informed of progress in this initiative, and of implications for their systems.

A trial will also be undertaken to enhance SCIS records for textbooks, anthologies and other items by the selective addition of chapter headings in a note on the record. This will provide additional keyword access points in the retrieval of SCIS records. The trial should be completed by the end of 1999, and will include liaison with schools and system vendors as for the website trial. Further information retrieval enhancements will be explored in 2000. Details will be communicated as they are clarified.

A major theme of the Conference was the presentation and content of the new edition of SCIS Subject Headings. The aim is to have the new edition available to schools before the end of 1999. Participants stressed the importance of the headings reflecting language commonly used by teachers and students, and the need to liaise with the school community in the ongoing maintenance of the headings list. The revised list will have a new presentation and format. and will include the recent major revision of the headings for Aboriginal peoples. Agreement was also reached on the need for ongoing revision of the headings to include terms relating to major curriculum initiatives, responsive to State, Territory and Commonwealth government priorities. Areas for focus may include: literacy and numeracy, VET in schools and vocational learning, science, learning technologies, the Olympics. Consideration was also given to the monitoring of new curriculum terminology and the use of culturally appropriate language.

Kevin Grove

Manager, Information Services