SCIS subject headings have been used by Australian schools for many years and they have done a good job but as we move to a more interconnected and semantic web are they up to the job?

This may be controversial, but when we moved to our new catalogue we were able to add holdings and access a rich ecosystem to subject headings. Adding SCIS subject headings was an extra and manual process so we stopped as we had so many other things to do. After a year and a half the result is:

NO ONE NOTICED.

NO ONE COMPLAINED.

THERE HAS BEEN NO NEGATIVE IMPACT.

To spend time loading metadata that no one uses when we have so many other things to do does not make sense. What the school has appreciated and noticed is the work we have done in mapping the collection to the curriculum, and strategically adding key elements of the Australian curriculum metadata http://vocabulary.curriculum.edu.au/. Furthermore, moving to the new catalogue, and hanging off the global library record immediately cleaned up our records from years of in-house data errors. If anything, people are much better placed to actually find what they are looking for in the catalogue.

It is worth remembering that students and teachers do key word searching, and in our catalogue we have:

• LC http://id.loc.gov/,
• BISACs http://bisg.org/page/BISACEdition and
• FAST http://fast.oclc.org/searchfast/ to name but a few.

As a result there is an incredibly rich ecosystem of subject metadata to search on and we therefore see no evidence of the limitations of LC compared to SCIS as outlined by SCIS at http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_94/articles/from_the_desk_of_a_cataloguer.html. Furthermore, the ID.LOC and FAST subject headings are designed to work within the new and emerging linked data standards https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BIBFRAME.

As noted above, SCIS has served Australian schools very well over many years but:

  • Unlike ScOT, SCIS is NOT one of the listed Australian Curriculum Vocabularies http://vocabulary.curriculum.edu.au/, and
  • Unlike the other Australian Curriculum Vocabularies, it is not set up with URIs and future proofed for the way library metadata standards are changing.

As we move forward Australian school libraries need to start considering what all these major changes to the Internet and metadata mean, and what roll our catalogues and systems will play in the semantic, linked data web.

SCIS the organisation has an incredibly valuable role to play in helping libraries make this transition and providing metadata that is more directly aligned to curriculum and learning outcomes. The question remains: how much longer can we afford to wait for the journey to start?

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