SCIS is more

By Dr Ben Chadwick

Updates and news from the School Catalogue Information Service (SCIS).

At SCIS we're often talking about the time-saving benefits of being a subscriber. For example, a typical school of between 200 and 400 students downloads 950 records per year. If we were generous and said each record took only twenty minutes to catalogue from scratch, this school would require over 316 hours to catalogue those items, which is nearly one fifth of a full time role. Alternatively, they could subscribe to SCIS for a little over $400 and upload these records in one batch.

During his recent series of webinars and workshops in New Zealand, Michael Jongen, our Library Services Coordinator, was asked 'why should we subscribe to SCIS when we can download records from our national library?'.

As a response to that question, I'd like to go over a selection of the key features of SCIS records, which are available to all SCISWeb subscribers in 2015.

Breadth of resources

With over 1.35 million records SCIS has the largest database of school-related catalogue records in the southern hemisphere. Whilst we catalogue a broad range of fiction and non-fiction works, we focus heavily on the types of resources used in schools and acquired by school libraries. Many educational publications are quite niche and may not be found in more generic databases, especially when it comes to electronic resources such as websites, educational DVDs and online video, digital learning objects, and ebooks. We source quality resources for school libraries by working closely with publishers and suppliers. For your convenience we have collected some of these resources on our Special Orders page.

Quality of records

SCIS cataloguers adhere to the strict SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry. We pride ourselves on the high standard of our bibliographic records and authority control while maintaining our rigorous quality-assurance processes. In SCIS, one resource corresponds to one record–you won't find annoying duplications. The same level of data integrity and consistency often falls short in other large-scale catalogues, much to the frustration of library staff.

Educational value-add

SCIS metadata is geared towards the education market. We provide both full and abridged Dewey Decimal classifications to accommodate students across all year levels. Headings in both of our subject vocabularies utilise language appropriate to students and teachers. SCIS Subject Headings are constructed to describe the types of resources acquired by schools, and the Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) is aligned to key curriculum concepts. Our subject headings also support classification of fiction resources according to genre.

Customer support

The SCIS customer support team provides telephone and email support for all subscribers. We also actively maintain relationships with most library system vendors, so if we identify issues that appear to be systemic, we can work with your vendor to resolve issues specific to your library system.

SCIS as a selection tool

The SCIS catalogue offers the perfect place to 'shop' for curriculum-relevant resources to add to your collection, be they hardcopy or digital. To facilitate this, SCIS has added enhanced content services to the SCIS OPAC from Syndetics Solutions and LibraryThing For Libraries, via an agreement with Thorpe-Bowker. The bibliographic records in SCIS OPAC are enhanced to display additional detail including plot summaries, author notes, awards, and reviews. Syndetics reviews are sourced from authoritative, commercial reviewing services.

Cover images

Through our agreement with Thorpe-Bowker, SCIS makes available cover images for over 500,000 publications. You are free to use these in your library-management system, or on your school website, blogs, wikis, online newsletters, or intranet.


Along with catalogue records, a SCISWeb subscription offers you the support of the SCIS community, including Professional Development webinars and workshops, the Connections magazine, the SCIS blog, and access to SCIS via our social media channels.

If you would like to know more about these features of SCIS, or learn how to use our service more effectively, consider enrolling in one of Michael's webinars early in 2015, including a complimentary 'What Is SCIS?' session. Keep an eye on our Professional Learning website for times and dates.

Government school systems (except in Victoria and Tasmania) and a number of Catholic Dioceses, coordinate access to SCIS on behalf of all their schools. If your school pays a subscription on an annual basis and you have not yet done so, contact SCIS customer support at [email protected]. If you find that you are not able to access the SCIS order page in 2015 it may be that you haven't paid your subscription on time.

Finally, current subscribers should consider changing passwords and updating their contact details for the new year. We do not enforce password updates, but it is recommended as a security measure. To do so, log in to the SCISWeb My Profile page and click the 'Change Password' button. To then edit your contact details click the 'Edit my details' button.

Ben Chadwick

Dr Ben Chadwick

Manager, SCIS

Education Services Australia