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 how this was done. Part 1 explained why.

Following is details of the first publication to be coded into WorldCat with detailed Australian Curriculum. Education Services Australia, the national not-for-profit company owned by all Australian education ministers, has not only made the Australian curriculum metadata freely available, the metadata complies with:

As a result, the library liaised with SCIS to scope out the best way to enter the curriculum metadata so there was the potential to leverage off the semantic web and linked data.

Biggest Estate on Earth OCN

The book “The biggest estate on earth: how Aborigines made Australia” by Bill Gammage was chosen because:

This book had also won a number of awards and contains authoritative information that was not necessarily easy to find elsewhere. Though it been part of the library collection for some time it had not been used, in part because it was buried in the Senior nonfiction collection. While genrefying the collection, and adding this book to the Indigenous Understanding collection made it both more visible and used, the library wanted to explore the impact of adding specific curriculum metadata to the bibliographic record.

Selecting the metadata framework in MARC

From conversations between the library and SCIS it was decided that the MARC 658 was the most appropriate field to use when coding specific curriculum outcomes supported by a publication. It is also expected that in a semantic linked data environment the MARC 658 is going to be more useful because it is more specific than the more general MARC 650. Though MARC 658 is one of the less used fields it is being increasingly used though admittedly from a low base.

Furthermore, SCIS was able to get approval from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to register the Australian curriculum metadata as MARC658 Curriculum Objective Term and Code Source Codes with the Library of Congress. This allows a library to code the Australian curriculum source into the MARC 658 “$2 – Source of heading or term” subfield.

Meanwhile, it is my understanding that OCLC was doing development work to enable additional subject headings to be integrated into WorldCat. This was driven in part by the decision of the National Library of New Zealand to migrate Te Puna away from the National Library’s systems infrastructure and onto WorldCat. As a result of this development there was the need for  Ngā Upoko Tukutuku / Māori Subject Headings to be included as authorities in WorldCat.

Selecting the curriculum terms

So with a decision made about what MARC field should be used a decisions had to be made regarding which parts of the Australian curriculum would be entered into the records. The components listed as MARC 658 Curriculum Objective Term and Code Source Codes are as follows:

Note that the ScOT metadata has not been registered against the MARC 658. This is because ScOT is used across Australian school libraries as a MARC 650, in part because there are catalogues systems used by schools that are in no way compliant to library metadata standards, and these systems lump all the metadata in the MARC 6XX fields into one field called “subjects”. Don’t get me started on what I think about that, I’ll leave that for another blog post in the future. As an aside, this library sources parts of its catalogue metadata from SCIS, and because we have a license agreement with SCIS, the School Education Online Thesaurus (ScOT) terms are loaded into the MARC 690 Local Subject Added Entry – Topical Term, and do not form part of the global WorldCat bibliographic record.

Back to the matter at hand, the following metadata was used:

  • Cross Curriculum Priorities – As there was a focus on supporting the cross curriculum priorities because the outcomes would support students and teachers across the entire school it was a given that the accp data would be used in this pilot project.
  • Australian School Year Level – Ditto the acsl Australian year level data even though there are many areas where the Australian curriculum framework acfr data indicated the year level within foundation to year 10, as well as year 11 and 12. One of the strengths, but also one of the weaknesses, of ScOT is that it is very general. For example, the ScOT term spider can be used to describe a senior school reference book on Araneae or the children’s book “Charlotte’s web ” by E.B. White. The acsl metadata was needed to indicate the school level audience of a publication.
  • Australian Curriculum Framework – The acfr was important because it indicated what subject (learning area) the publication supported. For example: Science > Earth and Space Science for foundation to year 10 with the notation S140 as well as Science > Earth and Environmental Science for years 11 and 12 with the notation S700, and Humanities and social science > Geography with the notation G for foundation to year 10 as well as Humanities and social science > Geography with the notation G300 for years 11 and 12.
  • Australian Curriculum General Capabilities – Where appropriate we also added acgc metadata. For example, for this publication it made sense to add Ethical understanding as well as Intercultural understanding.

It is worth noting that coding the acgc terms as MARC 658 instead of MARC 560 means that the catalogue, and any other information source that can link to the catalogue ‘understands’ that these terms don’t mean ‘intercultural understanding’ as a general concept, it means ‘intercultural understanding’ as outlined in the Australian curriculum. This demonstrates the potential power of cataloguing the curriculum and using URIs to enable teachers and students to find the Australian curriculum needle in the information haystack.

The end result

Following is the coding for the fields the library added to WorldCat record 805948810. The vocabulary terms have been highlighted in bold, and the URIs have been hyperlinked so you can refer directly back the the relevant part of the Australian curriculum. Note the relevant source codes in the $2 subfield.

658$aAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures$bCountry/Place$c$2acccp
658$aSustainability$bSystems : Biosphere$c$2acccp
658$aSustainability$bSystems : Society, economics and ecosystems$c$2acccp
658$aSustainability$bSystems : Connections within ecosystems$c$2acccp
658$aHumanities and social sciences$bGeography [F-10] $c$2acfr
658$aHumanities and social sciences$bGeography [11-12] $c$2acfr
658$aScience$bEarth and space sciences [F-10]$c$2acfr
658$aScience$bEarth and environmental science [11-12] $c$2acfr
658$aEthical understanding$c$2acgc
658$aIntercultural understanding$c$2acgc
658$aYear 10$c$2acsl
658$aYear 11$c$2acsl
658$aYear 12$c$2acsl


While it took a bit of work to get to this far, and while it took some liaising with both SCIS and OCLC, it has given the library staff a MUCH better appreciation of the Australian curriculum which has also enhanced our ability to support the school. This is a good thing. Coding other publications is proving to be much easier in part because we have developed a spreadsheet of the commonly used terms so it is more or less a copy and paste exercise.

It is also worth noting we do not intend to enhance our entire collection with Australian curriculum metadata, rather we are focusing on the more authoritative and important publications that are often overlooked. By adding this additional metadata we hope these key resources become more visible to the discoverable. This said, in the cloud based collaborative environment that is WorldCat, if the schools that use WorldCat each added a few records on a regular basis we would end up with a very rich education focused resource. Is this a lot of work? Yes, but if you don’t take the first steps you will never reach your goals.

Blog image curtesy of OCLC