Cataloguing your library and multimedia resources

Written for staff in New Zealand school libraries, this guide outlines currently accepted practice for cataloguing library resources, and the processes for standards-based data entry.

A school library collection catalogued according to standard rules and practices allows your library users to retrieve information effectively, maximising the use of your collection.

We encourage all New Zealand schools to use reliable, authoritative catalogue records – either the SCIS subscription service, or the National Library’s free SchoolsCat – and we provide information about where to go for any titles not matched through these services.

This guide is not designed to teach you how to do original, manual cataloguing. In line with libraries worldwide, we encourage schools to use reliable, quality catalogue records – and we outline the processes to follow in this guide.


Cataloguing your school library resources: an introduction
Where to obtain catalogue records
How to read a catalogue record
General Material Designations (GMD)
Subject headings and keywords – the difference
Cataloguing standards and tools
Cataloguing new resources
Dewey Decimal Classification
Modifying Dewey classification numbers
Authority control
Retrospective cataloguing using SCIS or SchoolsCat
Glossary of cataloguing terms

Cataloguing your school library resources: an introduction

Copy cataloguing refers to the process of cataloguing items by ordering and downloading existing bibliographic records from other databases or catalogues. The two sources we recommend come from the Schools Catalogue Information Service, Australia (SCISWeb) which is a subscription service or the free service from the National Library of New Zealand, SchoolsCat, which works best using Internet Explorer or Safari (Apple Mac).

The cataloguing in this guide is based on SCIS standards for cataloguing and data entry (Please note: SCIS Standards are published online as eight separate PDFs. These appear as the first eight items on the list of 52 documents that this link brings up).

SCISWeb and SchoolsCat will:

  • provide you with access to records that are based on internationally accepted library standards
  • enhance the access to your school’s resources
  • allow you to overwrite old or inaccurate records in your existing catalogue
  • improve the consistency and quality of your catalogue records
  • support information literacy by providing consistent access to resources
  • support transferable skill development by your library users.

Where to obtain catalogue records

When cataloguing, we encourage school library staff to download or copy records from SCIS and/or SchoolsCat in the first instance.

Every subscribing school is assigned a user name and password for SCISWeb.
For information about access to SCISWeb, contact SCIS Customer Support. Find out more about SCISWeb

SCIS Subject headings
An essential cataloguing tool for all school librarians is an online list of subject headings. Being online the headings and terminology will always be kept current. You will need to subscribe to one of these and as SCIS has been designed with students in mind, we recommend you purchase SCIS Subject Headings online.

This is a separate subscription from SCISWeb. You can subscribe to the Subject Headings even if you do not get your catalogue records from SCIS.

Every school wishing to use SchoolsCat must register with the National Library. You will be issued with a username and password. To register for SchoolsCat complete the online form.

N.B. SchoolsCat subject headings do not always use language suitable for schools. Use SCIS Subject Headings Online for alternative and more appropriate subject headings that can be used instead (Subscription and password required).

How to read a catalogue record

This section describes the information usually contained in catalogue records using examples from both SchoolsCat and SCIS, and explains what some of the abbreviations and terms mean.

Some of the information in a catalogue record serves to identify the particular title (e.g. title, publisher, paging). Other information describes the content of the title to support selection of that title for use (e.g. subject headings, summary).

The amount of detail in catalogue records can vary widely from title to title.

Here are two titles used as examples: one fiction and one non-fiction.

If you have any queries about the content of catalogue records please contact a Library Adviser on 0800 LIBLINE (0800 542 5463)

SchoolsCat Record  - Fiction

Bibliographic record - Quick View

    Record number    13237165
    Author                    MacIver, Juliette, 1972-
    Title                         Marmaduke Duck and the marmalade jam / written by Juliette MacIver ; illustrated by Sarah                                        Davis.
    Publisher               Auckland, N.Z. : ‡b Scholastic, ‡c 2010.
    Description            Book
                                     1 v. (unpaged) : ‡b col. ill. ; ‡c 26 cm.
    Dewey  NZ823.3 ‡2 22
9781775430025 (hbk.) : ‡c $30.00
                                     9781869439286 (pbk.) : ‡c $18.99
    LC Children's        Ducks—Fiction
    Subject                   Marmalade—Fiction
                                     Stories in rhyme
    Genre heading      Children's stories, New Zealand.

    Summary               Down in the woods, not far from the sea, Marmaduke Duck found a grapefruit tree. "What  luck!" cried the duck. "How lucky I am! I’ll take some and make some marmalade jam." The smell of Marmaduke Duck’s marmalade jam cooking draws a lot of other animals to his river. Suggested level: junior.
    Picture story book for children.
    Other contributor Davis, Sarah, 1971-

Explanation of the terminology on the SchoolsCat record

Record number: The number for this record in the SchoolsCat database

Author: The name of the main writer of the book, or the first writer. Some resources have no author. Only one person is named as author at the beginning of a catalogue record. Names of people are formatted following cataloguing standards.

Title: The information here is copied as it appears on the title page and includes titles, subtitles and any statements about authors, editors, illustrators, etc. that appear with the title.

Publisher: The place of publication, name of the publisher and date of publication are taken from the book. This helps to identify specific titles, especially for books that have been published many times by different publishers.

Description: Confirms that the resource is a book. Usually includes the number of pages (if the pages are numbered), the presence of any illustrations and the height of the book.

Dewey: Dewey Decimal Classification number and the edition of the classification scheme that was used. Edition 22 was used for this Dewey number.

ISBN: International Standard Book Number: This book has ISBNs for both the hardback and paperback editions (hbk and pbk in the record). Sometimes a price will be supplied with the ISBN. Books published since 2007 will have 13-digit ISBNs, while older titles have 10-digit ISBNs.

The ISBN numbers are assigned by specific agencies and are constructed as follows:

e.g. 978-1-186943-928-6

  1. Industry indicator 978 = Book publishing. 10-digit ISBNs don't have an industry indicator. They begin with the language group
  2. Language group 0 or 1 = English-speaking countries. The group identifier can be up to 5 digits
  3. Publisher code 186943 = Scholastic. Publisher codes vary in length. Larger publishers have smaller codes. Some publishers have more than one code.
  4. Item number 928 = Marmaduke duck and the marmlade jam - paperback version. Item numbers also vary in length. Larger publishers have longer item numbers because they publish more titles.
  5. Check digit 6 = Check digit for this title. The check digit is used to ensure the rest of the number has been recorded correctly. Some library systems have an automated check of ISBNs.

LC Children's Subject: These subject headings are taken from a list created by the Library of Congress and they show what the book is about.

Genre heading: This heading is also taken from a list created by the Library of Congress and it shows what the book is. Genre headings can be added to records describing fiction (including picture books), plays and poetry.

Summary: This note provides an outline of the story.

Note: Notes are used to provide additional useful information that is not covered by the other parts of the catalogue record. In this example the note identifies this book as a picture book.

Other contributor: Illustrators and second or third authors will be listed as other contributors to a book. Names of organisations can also appear as contributors.

SCIS Record - Fiction

Bibliographic record

    SCIS No:                  
    ISBN:                         9781869439286
    Title:                           Marmaduke Duck and the marmalade jam / by Juliette MacIver ; illustrated by Sarah Davis.
    Publisher:                 Auckland : Scholastic, 2010
    Description:             [40] p. : col. ill.
    Main Author:            MacIver, Juliette.
    Contributors:           Davis, Sarah.
    Subject Headings:  Ducks - Poetry. scisshl
                                       Jam and jam making - Poetry. scisshl
                                       Animals - Poetry. scisshl
                                       Stories in rhyme. scisshl
                                       Humorous poetry. scisshl
                                       New Zealand poetry - 21st century. scisshl
                                       Ducks. scot
                                       Fruit (Food) scot
                                       Cooking. scot
                                       Verse stories. scot
                                      Humour. scot
                                      Poetry. scot
                                      New Zealand
    Call Nos:                  NZ821 MAC a14
                                      NZ821.3 MAC 22
    Notes:                      New Zealand author, New Zealand illustrator.
    Summary:               Down in the woods, not far from the sea, Marmaduke Duck found a grapefruit tree. "What  luck!" cried the duck. "How lucky I am! I’ll take some and make some marmalade jam." The smell of Marmaduke Duck’s marmalade jam cooking draws a lot of other animals to his river. A story in rhyme.

Explanation of the SCIS terminology

SCIS No: The number for this catalogue record in the SCIS database

ISBN: As for SchoolsCat record

Title: As for SchoolsCat record

Publisher: As for SchoolsCat record

Description: The SCIS cataloguer has counted the pages for this book and the height of the book is not recorded. These are normal variations in recording a description.

Main Author: The same as the Author in SchoolsCat

Contributors: The same as Other contributors in the SchoolsCat record

Subject headings: The subject headings have been taken from two different lists published by the Australian publisher Curriculum Corporation.

  • The first group of headings ending with "scisshl" come from the SCIS subject headings list.
  • The second group ending with "scot" are from the Schools Online Thesaurus

Call Nos: These are Dewey Decimal classification numbers followed by the first three letters of the main author's surname. The final numbers indicate the edition of Dewey that has been used.

  • The first call number comes from the 14th abridged edition of Dewey
  • The second call number comes from the 22nd full edition of Dewey

Notes: As for the SchoolsCat record, but providing slightly different information. The summary appears as a second note, rather than having its own heading, but is almost identical to the SchoolsCat summary.

SchoolsCat Record – Non-fiction

Bibliographic record: Quick View

Record number:       12910859
Author:                       Benson, Michael, 1962-
Title:                           Beyond : a solar system voyage / Michael Benson.
Publisher:                   New York, NY : Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2009.
Description:               Book
                                     121 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 29 cm.
Dewey:                       523.2 22
LC Call Number:       QB501
ISBN:                           9780810983229
LC Subject:                Astronomy --Pictorial works --Juvenile literature.
                                     Solar system --Juvenile literature.
                                     Solar system --Pictorial works --Juvenile literature.
LC Children's            Astronomy.
Subject:                      Solar system.
Summary:                  Presents the solar system from the perspective of the space probes sent to explore the heavens. Suggested level: intermediate, junior secondary.
Note:                            Includes bibliographical references (p. 118) and index.

Most of the information in this record is similar to that in the Marmaduke Duck record but there are some differences as follows:

LC Call Number: This is a call number created using the Library of Congress Classification scheme. This scheme is only used in the larger university libraries in New Zealand.

LC Subject: Library of Congress Subject Headings: a list of subject headings used by all kinds of libraries from large national and university libraries to smaller public and school libraries.

LC Children's Subject: This is a simpler version of Library of Congress Subject Headings, developed to describe juvenile titles in public and school libraries.

Note:  This note supplies information about the location of references or a bibliography, and the presence of an index.

SCIS Record - Non-fiction

Bibliographic record

SCIS No:                   1426773

ISBN:                         9780810983229
Title:                          Beyond : a solar system voyage / Michael Benson.
Publisher:                New York, NY : Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2009.
Description:             120 p. : col. ill.
Main Author:           Benson, Michael.
Subject Headings: Astronomy - Pictorial works. scisshl
                                   Solar system - Pictorial works. scisshl
                                   Universe. scot
Call Nos:                   523.2 BEN a14
                                    523.2 BEN 22    

GoogleBooks:  SCIS records also include links to GoogleBooks where you can find more information and check sample pages of the title.

MARC records and their coding

MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging) is a way of coding the information in catalogue records so that the records can be indexed and searched. MARC uses numbers as labels for the information in the records.

Here is an example of part of a record in the MARC format. This is based on the Detailed View display in SchoolsCat

100 1_ |a Benson, Michael, |d 1962-
245 10 |a Beyond : |b a solar system voyage / |c Michael Benson.
260 __ |a New York, NY : |b Abrams Books for Young Readers, |c 2009.
300 __ |a 121 p. : |b ill. (chiefly col.) ; |c 29 cm.
504 __ |a Includes bibliographical references (p. 118) and index.
520 __ |a Presents the solar system from the perspective of the space probes sent to
            explore the heavens. Suggested level: intermediate, junior secondary.
650 _0 |a Astronomy |v Pictorial works |v Juvenile literature.
650 _1 |a Astronomy.
651 _0 |a Solar system |v Juvenile literature.
651 _0 |a Solar system |v Pictorial works |v Juvenile literature.
651 _1 |a Solar system.

Here is a translation of the MARC codes:

100    =    Author
245    =    Title
260    =    Publisher
300    =    Description
504    =    Bibliography note
520    =    Summary
650    =    LC Subject
651    =    LC Children's Subject

General Material Designations (GMD)

These are terms used to describe the resource, found either in brackets following the title in the title field of the record, or in the ‘type’ field of the record.

SCIS uses the following list of GMDs:

activity card                                   microform
art original                                    microscope slide
art reproduction                           model
braille                                            motion picture
chart                                              music
diorama                                        picture
electronic resource                    realia
filmstrip                                        slide
flash card                                    sound recording
game                                            technical drawing
globe                                            toy
kit                                                  transparency
manuscript                                  videorecording
map                                              website

Reproduced with permission from SCIS.

Subject headings and keywords: the difference

1.Purpose of subject headings vs keywords

Subject headings:

  • Indicate the main topics in a resource.
  • Normally used for topics comprising at least 20% of the resource.
  • Apply to fiction and non-fiction


  • Provide useful access to key sub-topics, which may form a small proportion of the overall work, and have not been covered in the subject headings
  • Supplement the access provided by subject headings, but should not replace them.
  • Apply to fiction and non-fiction.

2. Vocabulary control
Subject headings use:

  • Controlled vocabulary.
  • A list of approved terms.
  • Headings that represent a group of associated ideas and synonyms.


  • Use uncontrolled vocabulary - any term you wish to choose.
  • Terms are not drawn from an approved list
  • May include a range of terms for the same topic.

3. Consistency of terms used
Subject headings

  • ensure that all items catalogued on the same topic are given the same subject access points.


  • may result in great variation in range of keywords chosen to describe the same topic.

4. Fields searched by subject or keyword
Searching by subject heading:

  • A subject search will usually search only the Subject field.
  • Results will therefore be precise.
  • Library software (ILS) used in NZ schools varies in approaches to subject searching.

Searching by keyword:

  • A keyword term may be picked up wherever it occurs in the library catalogue.
  • The term may appear as an author surname, a title, a subject, in the series title, or in the notes.
  • Results will therefore not be precise.
  • Library software (ILS) used in NZ schools varies in the approach to keyword searching.

5. Reference links in the library catalogue
Links from non-approved to approved subject headings:

  • Some automated library systems are able to provide links which direct the user from a non-approved term to the approved subject heading. In order to create these links you require a special tool such as SCIS Authority Files.
  • Not all library systems used in NZ schools are able to do this.

When using keywords:

  • There are no reference links, which relate keywords with the same meaning to each other.
  • A term used for a search may have been assigned to only some of the resources on that sub-topic.
  • A keyword search may bring up an incomplete list of resources on a topic.

Cataloguing Standards and Tools

In this section we outline the importance of cataloguing standards, and list the tools and standards used as the basis for the catalogue records that you will be accessing and downloading from SCIS or SchoolsCat.

Standards for data entry

A standards-based library catalogue is based on international cataloguing rules and standards to ensure accurate and consistent data entry.

A standards-based library catalogue enables your library staff to provide effective guidance to teachers and students in the use of the OPAC, search strategies and conventions.

Every item in the collection must be described using a standard format. Each bibliographic description must contain the same basic components. Consistent and correct punctuation must be used.

Standards are required to:

  • maintain accuracy and consistency
  • maximise access to resources
  • provide nationwide excellence in cataloguing records across all New Zealand schools

Cataloguing tools

Anglo-American cataloguing rules. 2nd ed., 2002 Revision. Chicago, Ill.: American Library Association, 2002 + Amendments approved by the Joint Steering Committee of AACR.

SCIS standards for cataloguing and data entry compiled by Schools Catalogue Information Service. Carlton South, Vic : Curriculum Corp., 2002- 2nd ed. May 2005 Revision. ISBN: 1863665684

MARC 21 format for bibliographic data including guidelines for content designation. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress.

MARC 21 format for authority data including guidelines for content designation. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress.

MARC 21 concise formats. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress.

Classification tool

Abridged Dewey decimal classification and relative index. 15th ed. Dublin, Ohio.: OCLC, 2012.

Subject authority

SCIS subject headings. Latest ed. Carlton South, Vic.: Curriculum Corporation. + New and changed headings approved by the SCIS Information Services Standards Committee.

Cataloguing new resources

Creating original records is best done by cataloguing specialists rather than school library staff. Downloading standards-based records is a far more accurate, consistent and time efficient process.

By using standards-based products like SCISWeb and SchoolsCat, and taking advantage of suitable copy records from recommended sites for unmatched items, you will save time and avoid the need to correct inconsistencies at a later date.

How to obtain catalogue records using SCIS and SchoolsCat

SCIS: Here are the basic instructions for using SCISWeb. Note especially points 1.1-4.4

Cataloguing websites and other online resources

Your library incorporates not just your print-based collection but may also include a range of online information sources. You are able to catalogue these items in the same way you would catalogue a book.

SCISWeb includes a wide range of educational websites which have been selected as suitable for primary and secondary schools. Each site is catalogued and includes a URL link to the site which can be imported into your library catalogue. If you are using the WebOPAC module of your library management system students can simply click on the URL from within the catalogue and go directly to the site they require.

If you do decide to catalogue online resources, we recommend you also run a link checker on a regular basis, to avoid having dead links in your catalogue.

Here are the instructions for downloading catalogue records for websites using SCIS:

Cataloguing items not exactly matched on SCIS or SchoolsCat

Even without an exact match, you can still use SCIS OPAC and SchoolsCat to locate:

  • a record for a resource that may not have an ISBN number
  • a different edition of the same title
  • an item on the same topic

To locate a SCIS number for resources without ISBNs or a different edition (PDF) see points 5.1 – 7.2. Select this record within your own catalogue (ILS) and alter any details that are different to those that match your resource e.g. ISBN, publication date etc.

Creating a temporary record for new items yet to be catalogued by SCIS, but which are needed for immediate circulation

  • Assign this item a barcode number
  • Enter the author, title and especially the ISBN number (SCIS searches by the ISBN) into a new catalogue record
  • This will allow you to issue the book immediately through your normal circulation channel
  • Continue to search for the full record in SCIS or SchoolsCat using the ISBN number as outlined below:
  • For unmatched items on SCIS, go to SCISWeb and click on My Profile, then Advanced Options Tab. See the unmatched orders option and select how frequently you wish to receive alerts for titles which have been subsequently catalogued. This will automatically let you know when the record is available.
  • When the full record is available from SCIS or SchoolsCat, download and save to your computer in the normal manner
  • When importing to your own catalogue from your desktop, be sure to change the action from ‘Creating new record’ to ‘overwriting existing record’. This will then give you the full record with correct classification and subject headings.

Sending an item to SCIS Cataloguing Services

If you have new or unmatched items which are not already catalogued on the SCISWeb database and your school is a SCIS subscriber, you can send items to a New Zealand SCIS cataloguer for consideration. If appropriate the cataloguer will arrange for records to be provided by SCIS.

For Details of SCIS cataloguers, schools need to fill out a contact form online to ask for details.

To locate a SchoolsCat record for resources without an ISBN or a different edition

  • Position cursor in the ‘search for’ box
  • Search by title or author remembering to change to title or author in the ‘using’ box
  • When records appear, select ‘with latest year’ in ‘sort result set’ box
  • From the list displayed select the best record and double click on the link to view
  • Highlight the ISBN number
  • Copy and paste in to word document
  • Continue to search for catalogue records needed. As each one is located, paste the record number into the word document
  • Follow locating and downloading instructions as per Locating and saving the MARC record (DOC) or Locating and saving the MARC record (PDF)
  • Select this record within your own catalogue (ILS) and alter any details that are different  to those that match your resource e.g. ISBN, Publication date etc.

See also SchoolsCat – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (DOC)

Where to find an online catalogue record if not available through SCIS or SchoolsCat

If a record is not available on either of these databases/catalogues we recommend you search either of the following online catalogues, and copy the relevant details from the catalogue record:

  • The world’s largest catalogue, WorldCat, from OCLC (in the United States) is free to search.  The information is formatted a little differently to SCIS and SchoolsCat, but you can copy the relevant information into your school library catalogue. (You cannot download these catalogue records, as that requires a subscription)
  • Trove from the National Library of Australia. You can copy the relevant information into your library catalogue.

Special attention needs to be given to Dewey Decimal Classification numbers and subject headings, see Modifying classification options.

The list of SCIS subject headings can be checked (subscription required).

For a brief explanation of “GMD” see General Material Designations.

Dewey Decimal Classification check

When a suitable subject heading has been located, search under it in SCIS OPAC to get an indication of the appropriate Dewey number.

Creating a record for a unique (local) item – where no online record is available

There will be rare occasions when you want to catalogue a unique item for which there will never be a catalogue record available from standard sources such as SCIS and SchoolsCat.

The following instructions are limited to providing accurate input for unique items e.g. local histories, students’ published writing, school websites, or other locally created items.

Creating a new record is only necessary if a bibliographic record is unavailable from SCISWeb, SchoolsCat, WorldCat or Trove.

Please follow these instructions closely to ensure that your records remain accurate.

Any new records created must conform to SCIS standards for cataloguing and data entry (Please note that the SCIS standards appear as the first eight documents (PDFs) in the list of 52 documents brought up via this link).

Using SCIS OPAC to assist with creating a new record (for a unique item)

  • Log on to SCIS OPAC (subscription required)
  • Go to Basic Search Author to establish form of author’s name.
  • Go to Basic Search Subject to establish suitable subject headings.
  • If this proves difficult, try a Guided Search Keyword Anywhere to locate appropriate records.
  • To check subject headings use SCIS subject headings online
  • Enter subject heading into subject field of your library system.
  • Go to Basic Search Subject to identify a resource on the same topic. Arrange according to Publish Date (most recent first) to check for an Abridged 15 Dewey number.
  • To check the Dewey number, do a Guided Search using the Abridged 15 Dewey number as a phrase In Dewey. See Modifying classification options.
  • SCIS OPAC Guided Search may be used to check the form of series and publisher entries by using the dropdown screen to search In Series; In Publisher: Place; Name

Using SchoolsCat to assist with creating new records (for a unique item)

  • Go to SchoolsCat
  • To establish the form for an author’s name, enter surname, firstname in the search box e.g. Mahy Margaret and change the ‘using’ option to Author Browse
  • If you wish to maintain subject consistency with your existing records which are predominantly SCIS then you can use the subject authority file in your school library management system. From this list of headings select the one which best suits the item you are cataloguing. Also refer to the Subject heading selection and Subject headings and keywords
  • To locate a Dewey number enter your subject term in the search for box and change the ‘using’ option to subject.  Select a subject heading which has a number of titles attached and from the results list sort result set with Latest Year first. Click on the latest title and look at the Dewey field to locate the classification number for the subject.
  • The ‘20’ or ‘22’ included at the end of the Dewey number field refers to the edition of Dewey which the cataloguers have used and is not part of the classification number itself.
  • SchoolsCat uses the full version of Dewey Decimal Classification. If you require an abridged Dewey number check SCIS OPAC if you are a subscriber.
  • Refer also to Modifying classification numbers.

Dewey Decimal Classification

New Zealand schools use the Dewey Decimal Classification system.  The preferred edition is the current Abridged edition, rather than full Dewey (which tends to use more digits after the decimal point).

For school library staff new to the Dewey system, here is a PowerPoint explanation of how it works: Get to know the Dewey Decimal Classification system.

Modifying Dewey classification numbers

We advise against truncating (i.e. shortening) Dewey numbers, for the following reasons:

  • Each number in a Dewey sequence has an important part to play in identifying the exact resource you need quickly, e.g.
    • Mammals @ 599
    • Possums @ 599.2
    • Rats @ 599.35
    • Dolphins @599.53
    • Lions @ 599.757
    • Chimpanzees @ 599.885   
  • If you truncate the Dewey number in the example above, the resource will then be shelved within the broader area of ‘mammals’ and it will take you longer to find it.

However, there are some instances where you will need to change the classification provided by SCIS or SchoolsCat, so that books are shelved according to accepted practice in New Zealand school libraries:

  • 398s – Fairy tales, folklore, legend – retain in 398
  • 421/411 – Alphabet books – may be classed as picture books
  • 428.6 – Readers – option to class with fiction/subject
  • 513.2 - Counting books: SCIS classes with Arithmetic – may be classed as picture books
  • 811/821 – For picture books in rhyme, e.g. Dr. Seuss, Juliette MacIver, Lynley Dodd and others: class as picture books (rather than with Poetry) and make sure that ‘stories in rhyme’ is added as a subject heading.
  • 920 – Biography/Autobiography – SCIS uses subject classification for biographies / autobiographies.  For instance, the biography of a painter would be classed with painters and painting in the 759s; the biography of a famous astronomer would be classed in the Astronomy section in the 520s, and books about sports stars classed with their chosen sport.

The use of a 'biography / autobiography' subject heading for all such catalogue entries means that all your biographical resources can easily be brought up in a 'biography' or 'autobiography' search. We recommend that schools follow the SCIS classification.

Authority control

Authority files - a brief introduction
An integrated library system (ILS) – the correct term for your library automated catalogue - has authority files. These can include subject headings, authors’ names, series and names of organisations (e.g. Department of Conservation).

Correct use of authority files ensures consistency and accuracy. For example, if a catalogue contains several forms of the same author’s name: Smith, Jane; Smith, J; Smith, J.S., any one search by author would only locate some of the resources. However, if the same form was always used for the author’s name, all of the resources by this author would be located.

Authority files: global change / merge facility
Most ILS have a global change / merge facility to change data in the authority files. The global change / merge facility should be used to correct data which does not comply with SCIS standards of cataloguing and data entry.

It is preferable to globally change or merge a term in an authority file, rather than delete it. Always backup the ILS before making these changes. Contact your system vendor for instructions.

Some vendors’ preloaded authority records are inaccurate. They will need to be merged to comply with SCIS standards for cataloguing and data entry (Please note that the SCIS standards appear as the first eight documents (PDFs) in the list of 52 documents brought up via this link).

Retrospective cataloguing using SCIS or SchoolsCat

Retrospective cataloguing is the process of overwriting existing catalogue records with those contained in an authoritative database of machine-readable (MARC) records, that can be easily and quickly downloaded e.g. SCIS or SchoolsCat.

Rationale for undertaking retrospective cataloguing

With the introduction of SCIS and SchoolsCat many schools may consider this process very seriously as a means of replacing old and possibly inaccurate existing catalogue records.

This process would:

  • ensure that the complete catalogue would be consistent with other school library catalogues
  • ensure the catalogue was capable of supporting the information literacy needs of their students through full OPAC searching
  • ensure accuracy of Dewey Decimal Classifications and Subject Headings
  • allow authority control of subject, author and publisher fields
  • allow access to catalogue records for school-wide resources e.g. teaching resources
  • enhance collection management

How the retrospective cataloguing process works

Records from SCIS / SchoolsCat which match the ISBNs in your existing records are imported into your catalogue.  You will use these new records to overwrite the core information about the item. Providing you have selected specific library system settings before you begin the process you are still able to retain notes and financial information from your existing records.

We strongly recommend that you discuss your particular issues and the process involved with a Library Adviser on 0800 LIBLINE (0800 542 5463), before embarking on this procedure.

The main point is that the descriptive cataloguing information and subject access will be updated to meet SCIS standards.

The process of retrospective cataloguing  will be different for each school.

Some library systems will allow the retention of existing subject headings and classification numbers.  These need to be completely overwritten with new records, not appended to.

Scoping the retrospective cataloguing process, and issues to be considered

Discuss with all library staff and your school Principal the work involved and the scope of the project. In preparing your case for undertaking such a project, there are a number of important issues to look at in some detail, including the following:

  • Whether the whole library, or just certain sections, need re-cataloguing.
    • The existing collection should be evaluated and old stock weeded out before any retrospective cataloguing begins.
    • Evaluation of existing data in the catalogue, and the work involved in cleaning up your database removing any deleted or withdrawn records
  • Technical issues:
    • budget implications of possible need to upgrade your software programme or computer hardware – discuss this with vendor and other users.
    • availability of internet, printer, scanner capable of handling the work.  
  • ISBNs:
    • Are they in the current records or are they going to have to be scanned from the books?  
    • If school barcodes have been put over the ISBN barcode, the time involved in sourcing the SCIS number will be considerably longer.
  • Dewey classification:
    • Whether to adopt new Dewey Decimal Classification numbers or keep the old. Most ILS programmes will allow you to retain the data in some fields whilst overwriting the others.
    • If in the course of this project you discover anomalies in Dewey classification, labelling on the books may need to be altered, which will involve time and cost of labels and protectors.
    • You will need to be able to track books that have been re-classified so they can be re-labelled.
  • Method of accessing records:
    • Mass importing of catalogue records may involve closing your library, and calculating extra staff costs to deal with the volume of work in a short period of time. Proceed cautiously as all data will be changed within one brief process.
    • Section by section importing of catalogue records may be able to be done within library hours over a longer period of time.
  • Non-hits:
    • A decision on dealing with these needs to be made at this stage, as mass importing could leave you with a large number of existing records which do not have a matching SCIS / SchoolsCat record to import.
    • Will the library remain closed while these are copy catalogued or will they be stored and dealt with later?
  • Options include:
    • Marking the spine in some way to indicate non-hits, leaving these items on the shelves with their existing records in the catalogue, for updating when time and funding allows.  This ensures ongoing access to these resources.
    • Avoid taking these books out of circulation for a long period of time, or closing the library for a long period. Refer to Cataloguing unmatched items.

Resourcing the process

Once these issues have been decided:

  • Work out the time involved and any extra hours needed to complete the task
  • Calculate the costs involved for providing the resources needed to complete the task
  • Decide on the level of priority for this project, how badly the library needs to undertake this, what the available funding will allow, and which process you are going to use - mass import or small bites at a time.

Authority Files and retrospective cataloguing

Your ILS will have authority files in various fields, e.g. author, organisations, subject headings etc.

Deleting the authority files should only be contemplated if you are re-cataloguing the entire collection.

Be very careful and ensure that:

  • You contact 0800 LIBLINE (0800 542 5463) to discuss the issues concerning authority files and subject headings with a library adviser
  • The programme is backed-up before doing anything
  • Your backed-up data can be recovered if necessary, every step of the way.
  • Contact details are easily at hand for the software help desk.

Glossary of Cataloguing terms

Please consult the Glossary for the meaning of any unfamiliar terms used in this guide. Here is the Glossary of cataloguing terms (PDF).

Attached documents

  • The following attachments are appended to this Guide, and may be downloaded as Word documents or PDFs:
  • SchoolsCat: instructions for saving and downloading MARC records
  • SchoolsCat: Frequently Asked Questions
  • Locating and downloading websites in SCIS OPAC (NB This 2-page sheet is available only as a PDF)
  • Cataloguing websites – some frequently asked questions (Connections article)
  • Glossary of cataloguing terms