In late 2015 the library started a small pilot project with SCIS to explore if and how Australian curriculum metadata could be included into the global bibliographic record. This post explains why this is of interest. Part 2 will explain how the metadata was added.


At the bequest of the School Principal, in 2014 the library developed a three year strategic plan which was signed off by the Senior Management Team [SMT] and the School Council. The key priorities are:

  • Support the curriculum and learning,
  • Support student’s literacy and broader reading,
  • Support student’s information literacy and research capability, and
  • Support documenting and preserving the School’s history and identity via the Archive collection.

As the library now provides quarterly reports to the SMT against these priorities it was important to provide both qualitative and quantitative of how we are tracking. As an aside, the increased transparency and accountability helps the library team know they are on track, but it has also enabled the library to report back on the VALUE we deliver to the School in terms that are important to the SMT. Furthermore, the new reporting regime has changed the way the library is viewed by key stakeholders. It is one reason the library has received incremental increases in budget allocation when so many other school libraries have faced budget cuts.

To reconfigure the library services and collections against these priorities we started to genrefy the collections. This made the content in these collections more visible, and therefore accessible to students and teachers. It also enabled the library to report back on usage relating to specific collections. Without changing the call numbers or 6XX subject headings we first brought together the fiction, non-fiction and picture books that support the three cross curriculum priorities as these priorities had a measurable impact across the entire school.

In creating collections against broad curriculum outcomes the question arose: how do we provide more specific curriculum alignment. For example,

  • Can we be more targeted in how we provide curriculum aliment. For example, is this where we provide School year level details.
  • Is it possible to use curriculum metadata and the associated URIs to link specific resources to other authoritative online resources that share the same curriculum metadata and for this to happen in real time?
  • If this works, is this a better way of providing access to a quality resources aligned to the curriculum in a way that is not dependent on library staff manually curating and then maintaining links in a pathfinder of some kind?
  • In partnership with SCIS the question arose whether there is value in adding curriculum metadata to the SCIS record, and if so what would this look like?

Scoping the project and aligning the bits

As the library had moved the catalogue to OCLC Worldshare we are in the cloud and with FAST subject headings OCLC has already done some work in exploring the possibilities of using linked data in a library catalogue. Furthermore, as we use WorldShare the bibliographic record in our catalogue is THE GLOBAL RECORD on WorldCat so:

  • We can share what we had learnt with other libraries as our collection is visible online,
  • Any other library with access to WorldCat records, and this includes Libraries Australia, can select these records and add them to their catalogue, and
  • The records are also visible to SCIS so they can help verify what we are doing.

Why are we doing this?

  • Because our younger students are starting to ask if the catalogue can work with voice recognition e.g. SIRI. If the library users of the future are starting to expect searching by asking their phone, as distinct from typing a search query, how do we respond? Part of the answer may be that our library metadata has to be coded in a way that is more meaningful for other systems outside of the traditional library metadata ecosystems. For example, Google’s knowledge graph and Wolfram Alpha.
  • As an Australian School using WMS our catalogue is full of ScOT metadata and this is the same metadata used by Scootle and ABC Splash Library users expect relevant information to just appear irrespective of where it comes from. Whereas libraries have done work on integrating with other systems within the library sphere (integrating with other library collections or library vendors) how do we integrate to content outside of the traditional library sphere, for example content on the BBC By populating WorldCat records with Australian curriculum metadata that includes linked data URIs is it possible to explore testing some of these assumptions.
  • As mentioned above we now provide quarterly reports to our Principal and Senior Management Team on how the library supports the curriculum as well as supports literacy and broader reading. We are interested in exploring if adding this curriculum metadata enables more insightful reporting back to the value the library offers the school especially as WorldShare gives us access to vastly superior analytics.

In the meantime SCIS got the approval of ACARA to allow for the Australian curriculum metadata to be recognised as Curriculum Objective Term and Code Source Codes against the MARC658 Index Term-Curriculum Objective field.

Now the Australian curriculum metadata is recognised by the international library metadata infrastructure, AND because this curriculum metadata comes with URIs, we can explore if and how this curriculum information can be coded in the catalogue in a way that enables real time linking to authoritative online resources that also use the same metadata.

The source codes that are now internationally recognised as MARC 658 source codes are:

Note that the ScOT thesaurus has not been added.

It will be interesting to see how this project unfolds. We shall endeavour to record our progress and share what we have learnt.

Image curtesy of OCLC