From the desk of a SCIS cataloguer

By Mavis Heffernan


The SCIS cataloguing team regularly source, receive, and catalogue a range of print and electronic resources suitable for use in school libraries. Electronic resources include websites, apps, and ebooks, and are available for SCIS subscribers as easily downloadable files using the Special Order Files page of our website. We often receive questions about how websites are catalogued by the SCIS team, which we have endeavoured to answer for you here.

Frequently asked questions about website cataloguing

Where does SCIS source websites from?

The SCIS cataloguing team only catalogues websites that are curriculum-related, have been through a quality control process, or have been published in reviews or listed in appropriate educational sources such as ABC Splash, Connections, Scan, or Education Department evaluations.

We only catalogue websites with expiry dates if they are of a popular topical subject – for example, the Olympic Games.

If your school requires specific websites to be catalogued, you are invited to contact your cataloguing agency, or email the details to: [email protected].

These websites will only be catalogued after they have been checked for their suitability.

How do we choose a title for the record?

The title we use for a website record is taken from the home page of the website itself, which is our preferred source of information.

The most prominent form of the title on the home page is used, with added title entries recorded for other forms, if required. Added titles may include preliminary page titles or source page titles that are displayed by the web browser in the title bar at the top of the screen. A note is given for variant titles, for example:

Title: Digital learning network
Added title: NASA digital learning network
Note: Meta title: NASA digital learning network

Why are most websites given title main entry?

Usually, the main entry for a website is entered under the title, because often many contributors or corporate bodies are involved with creating content for a website, or a specific author is not mentioned. If the cataloguer has any doubt as to whether a named person or corporate body is a creator of a website, they are not recorded. Statements expressed as 'Created by', 'Produced by', and 'Webmaster' are not necessarily regarded as statements of responsibility.

If genuine authorship statements are given, as in the case of personally authored web pages, then an appropriate statement of responsibility is added. Websites created by corporate bodies that are about their procedures, resources, policies, or history are given main entry for the corporate body, for example: Western Australia. School Curriculum and Standards Authority.

What information is given for publication?

Place of publication: is given as found on the home page or the 'About' page of a website. If the location is not certain, a probable location is used in square brackets with a question mark, for example: [United States?]. If the place of publication is totally unknown, then [place of publication not identified] is recorded.

Publisher name: is recorded as found on the home page. If the name of the publisher is uncertain, then a probable or 'best guess' publisher is given. If no publisher can be identified, then [publisher not identified] is recorded.

Date of publication: if there is a date of origin found on either the home page or an easily located copyright page, then this date is used.

If there is a definite indication that the website is going to be updated regularly, then an open date is given, e.g. 2000- (with no spaces or full stop after the hyphen).

Where the home page gives more than one date, the earlier date is chosen. If no date can be found on the home page, the following sources are consulted: copyright statement page, disclaimer page, 'about' page, or metadata; and the earliest date is recorded. Where there is no date to be found on any of these sources, an approximate date is supplied, for example: [2013?] or [between 2010 and 2013?]. If an approximate date cannot be determined, the current year is recorded as the probable date, in the form of [2015?].

When is a contents note given?

A Contents or Contents includes note is provided for enhanced access, where appropriate. For example, for a website with the title: Ancient history homework helper

Contents includes: Ancient Egypt – Ancient Greece – Ancient Rome – Other ancient civilizations – Mythology.

When is a summary note given?

A summary note is included only if it adds valuable information and can be based on an easily accessible source, such as the website itself or an electronic version of a review.

How is the website accessed?

The URL of the home page recorded on the catalogue record will allow direct access to the website. Other URLs may also be included if deemed useful. For example: the URLs of preliminary pages, mirror sites, different viewing formats, and related or supporting resources.

Here at SCIS we run reports on dead or faulty links twice a month, in order to ensure that URLs are current. We find that some websites no longer exist and therefore the SCIS records for these are deleted; other websites have been moved and their old URLs are replaced with a new link.

If you come across one of our website records that has a faulty or dead link, search the SCIS OPAC by title.

If you cannot find the record for the website, delete the record from your catalogue.

If you can find the record in the SCIS catalogue, check if it has a different URL to the one in your library catalogue. You can easily cut and paste this new URL into your catalogue, if required.

If you come across a faulty or dead URL link we would appreciate hearing about it. Please email us at [email protected].

How can I find recently catalogued website records on SCIS?

The Special Orders page on the SCIS website provides a convenient way to access batches of our website records. These records can be searched by date and selected for downloading.

Access the special orders file.

Please note that some records for websites relate to commercial products and may require a subscription for access.

Mavis Heffernan

Cataloguer, SCIS

Education Services Australia