Cataloguing standards update

SCIS, along with the library world globally is preparing for the first major cataloguing standards change to take place since the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, second edition (AACR2) were released in 1978. Resource Description and Access (RDA) will be implemented by major library networks, including Australia and New Zealand in the first half of 2013. For further information about RDA check out the article by Renate Beilharz in issue 83 of Connections and the Australian Committee on Cataloguing (ACOC) website:

SCIS implementation of RDA

Pam Kadow, SCIS Cataloguing Team Leader, participated in the National Library of Australia’s RDA Train the trainer course in September 2012, and a discussion paper of recommended changes was created for consideration by the SCIS Information Services Standards Committee (ISSC). A SCIS cataloguer’s conference was held in Term 4 and proposals for RDA implementation were put to a consultation workshop involving library system providers, school library staff and cataloguers on 4 December 2012.

Following this consultation most library system providers have agreed that they can support an April 2013 implementation date for RDA in SCIS. Please note that SCIS will not undertake any retrospective updating of records to RDA and, like libraries across the world, subscribers and library systems will be dealing with records different standards within their catalogues.

RDA Toolkit logo

The RDA Toolkit which will become the new cataloguing reference tool is available as an online subscription service available from Most SCIS subscribers who download records from SCIS and use the SCIS original cataloguing service would not need this reference. The SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry will be updated to reflect changes prior to implementation.

What will change?

The major areas of change likely to affect school libraries include:

New MARC21 fields required
There is a new MARC field 264 for Production, Publication, Distribution, Manufacture, and Copyright Notice, more information available from While SCIS will continue to use the existing MARC field 260 Publication, Distribution, etc. (Imprint) for the foreseeable future, it is possible that the 264 field may be required and we ask that library systems allow for this.

SCIS will implement the new elements: 336 Content Type; 337 Media Type and 338 Carrier Type, and descriptors for these fields will be taken from the list in the RDA Toolkit.

It is expected that the new element 347 Digital Characteristics, more information available from, will be well-used in SCIS; however related elements such as 344 Sound Characteristics, 345 Projection Characteristics of Moving Image and 346 Video Characteristics will be less relevant to school collections.

Current AACR2 / MARC21 elements no longer used
While RDA replaces the element 245 $h [GMD], following consultation SCIS proposes to continue to include GMD for a short term (initially 12 months) to accommodate legacy systems that rely on the GMD. It was noted that mapping from GMD to the new elements 336, 337, 338 is not considered feasible.

If you have any questions about these changes and their impact please contact SCIS or your library system provider.

SCIS asks

On Tuesday 4 December 2012 SCIS conducted a consultation workshop in Melbourne. The consultation aimed to engage SCIS partners about future priorities in our support of school libraries and covered the following issues:

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SCIS partners engage in discussions during the consultation workshop

Strategic directions for school libraries: How will education libraries best serve their communities in 2015?
Judy O'Connell, Course Director (Teacher Librarianship) at Charles Sturt University provided a set of challenges with emphasis on collections, search, cataloguing, interoperability and access. This led to discussion about how SCIS and library system providers can best serve school libraries in 2015 and beyond.

Resource Description and Access
An overview of RDA and its potential benefits for education libraries was presented by Renate Beilharz, Box Hill Institute. Pam Kadow then walked participants through the recommended changes to SCIS Standards for Cataloguing in the light of RDA.

Subject access looking forward
Les Kneebone, Project manager of the Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) explained the development of the thesaurus as a semantic-web enabled, multilingual vocabulary service and its use in describing Australian curriculum. The use of ScOT to aid alignment between curriculum and resources to support that curriculum was discussed.

Integrating digital collections
The workshop concluded with an open discussion on the challenges of collection building and workflows, and priorities for cataloguing digital content to realise our goal of services and systems that provide a consistent experience for school communities, and learning resources that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, by those who need the information.

Links to the presentations and discussion questions from this workshop are available on the SCIS blog: All those interested in future services have an opportunity to provide responses to the strategic questions raised in this process by subscribing to the SCIS blog.

Pru Mitchell headshot

Pru Mitchell

Manager, SCIS
Education Services Australia