SCIS is more.....

SCIS Subject Headings

When new cataloguers arrive at SCIS they sometimes ask why, given the amount of time and maintenance required, SCIS doesn’t just use Library of Congress, Libraries Australia or another externally maintained subject headings list. It is true that SCIS Subject Headings are a project in themselves, and the process from suggestion to a heading being ratified and added can be lengthy, but they are one of the vital ingredients that keeps SCIS relevant to Australian and New Zealand schools, providing precise description of education and learning related material.

SCIS Subject Headings and additions/up-dates emanate from both customer and cataloguer suggestions, and are proposed when a gap in our current headings is found. This is often due to advancing technologies but can also be due to the ever-changing use of language in society. A recent example of the former, changed in 2011, was the subdivision Data processing which was changed to Computer applications. An example of societal opinion affecting SCIS headings is a very recent change not yet listed: Siamese twins changed to Conjoined twins.

The process for changing an existing heading or creating a new one begins with the heading suggestion. These are then added to the Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC) subject heading proposal register where cataloguers assess the need for the heading’s inclusion. One of the main considerations is literary warrant. For example, given the time involved, if a proposed heading is more obscure and would only be used in very few records and involve changes to other headings, it is unlikely to be deemed to have sufficient warrant. However, for either of the above examples, there was both a sufficient number of records already on SCIS, and the need for adjustment due to contemporary word usage/acceptance.

If literary warrant is established, a cataloguer prepares a formal subject heading proposal paper which is submitted to the Committee for comment prior to the next quarterly ISSC teleconference. At this meeting each heading is discussed with reference to SCIS Standards and if approved by all parties, a new authority record with all relevant references is created and added to the database in the following weeks. Any new headings or changes are then listed in the next issue of Connections, with a full list posted to SCISWeb.

There are not always heading suggestions, and proposals are not prepared for every ISSC. This is dependent on suggestions received and staff time for paper preparation.

Customers are welcome to provide suggestions for new headings where they feel there is a gap preventing precise description and searching of an item. However before proposing a heading, please take time to read through the more detailed information. An online form is provided for SCIS subscribers on our website:

Abridged Dewey 15th edition

Following release of the 15th edition of abridged Dewey, SCIS will implement Dewey Abridged Edition 15 from Monday 16 July 2012. This edition published in early 2012, reflects changes to the body of human knowledge that have occurred since Abridged Edition 14 was published in 2004.

The 1 volume print edition of this cataloguing tool is available from library text suppliers (ISBN 9780910608817).

SCIS subscriptions 2013

SCIS is pleased to advise that the cost of subscription to SCISWeb, SCIS Subject Headings and SCIS Authority Files will not increase in 2013 for renewing subscribers. In October 2012, invoices will be dispatched to schools not covered by a bulk subscription.

SCIS order form available from


Pam Kadow

Acting Manager, SCIS
Education Services Australia