Throughout this module, I have come to appreciate the importance of careful analysis of the resource being described and a focus on my students’ information seeking needs. Hider (2012) emphasizes that this knowledge is key in developing the skill of applying the most appropriate vocabulary and high quality description to resources (p. 154). Consequently, I’ve come to realise that the standardization of vocabulary and language in the description process stands alongside the seemingly opposing concept of ‘flexibility’.
SCIS Subject Headings have a controlled vocabulary aimed specifically at Australian and New Zealand school libraries but flexibility is shown in the guidelines. For example, additional subject headings can be devised but within strict parameters so as to maintain consistency (SCIS, 2015, p. 14). Indeed, SCIS are not rigid in their approach and one of their guiding principles is an ongoing process of revision (SCIS, 2011, p. 6). This takes into account the ways in which language is used and develops and the emergence of new technologies so that users’ information-seeking needs are being met.
Users’ needs are also central to the SCIS adaptions of the Dewey class number. The preference for shorter Dewey classification numbers (SCIS, 2015, p. 3-4) is something that I’ve considered in the library I work in so that children can be independent learners and locate materials by themselves. While I have previously truncated call numbers without much thought, I now feel I have an understanding about when and where it is logical to do so. My understanding of this deepened through my readings as well as discussions in the Module 5 forum where the importance of not reducing the number arbitrarily and understanding how the Dewey number is constructed was highlighted (Hogg, 2016).
During this module I have examined metadata standards for resource description including Resource Description Access (RDA), SCIS Subject Headings (SCISSH), Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) and SCIS Standards for cataloguing and data entry. The very existence of SCIS specification has lead me to consider the potential bias of the metadata creator who will be influenced by their own world-view, their perception verses the actual needs of the users and regional specific standards. Hider highlights this issue (2012, p.15) and it is something I have given great thought to. I work in an international school in Dubai and many of the Australia and New Zealand specific considerations are not relevant for obvious reasons. However, I also find the concept to be irrelevant regardless of location because the region includes people from many nationalities and this is reflected in the international mindset of the school I work in. I would not want to encourage UAE specific classifications even if they existed because that would seem to potentially put a hierarchy of importance to specific topics and impact upon details on how certain items are classified and as a corollary, retrieved. While I do understand the rationale and decisions behind particular adaptations and Australia specific standards it is an interesting concept to question when considering potential information bias and the promotion of a particular world-view and perspective.
Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description: Creating and managing metadata. London: Facet Publishing.
Hogg, D. (2016, September 22). Webmail will be discontinued [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&forum_id=_62194_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_23315_1&course_id=_14208_1&message_id=_940766_1#msg__940766_1Id
SCIS. (2011). Overview and principles of SCIS Subject Headings. Education Services Australia. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/Overview.pdf
SCIS (2013). SCIS Standards for cataloguing and data entry. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/SCIS_standards_2014.pdf
SCIS (2015). Guidelines to Using SCIS Subject Headings. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/SCISSHguidelines.pdf
WebDewey. [Interactive website tool kit]. Retrieved from http://dewey.org/webdewey/login/login.html