Little Green Librarian

Blogging my way through a Masters in Teacher Librarianship at CSU!

Resource description: A reflection


Image of a young girl takings a book from a library shelf.

Throughout this course, I have established a personal philosophy of resource description that will serve me throughout my career. It centres around three key points: users first, consistency and future thinking.

Users first

The introduction of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) framework is an important development in the development of user-friendly systems, as its roots are in the needs of users (Oliver, 2010, p14). In order for these systems to operate effectively, quality metadata is required in catalogue records (Hider, 2012, p77).

The School’s Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) create detailed records to help schools catalogue their resources (Education Services Australia, 2013, p6). SCIS records are indispensible for the creation of an effective catalogue, but it is crucial to note that these records are created by people, which means that sometimes resources are inefficiently filed or filed in a way that does not meet the needs of users in a particular library. This is why it is imperative for all librarians to understand how both record creation and systems work (Hider, 2012, p63).


Another key aspect of delivering a quality library service is maintaining consistency (Hider, 2012, pp80-82). This occurs through the use of quality metadata, as well as the use of a controlled vocabulary in catalogue records (Hider, 2012, p82). SCIS subject headings are the key source of controlled vocabulary in school libraries (Education Services Australia, 2011, p1), and it has been helpful to learn how these subject headings are created. The more teacher librarians work with subject headings, the easier it is for us to help our patrons find the resources they need.

Future thinking

The pace of change in technology and access means that the way libraries currently operate may change significantly in a short space of time. One way this is manifesting is in the increasing use of search engines that search through whole texts rather than relying on metadata and controlled vocabularies (Hider, 2012, pp53-54). While this may seem threatening to libraries, it is important to acknowledge that this type of searching is sometimes the best way for a person to find what they need. Conversely, sometimes this type of searching does not result in a person finding what they need. Future thinking requires teacher librarians to demonstrate to patrons that both types of searches are beneficial in different circumstances (Hider & Harvey, 2008, p155). It is part of our role to educate users on search methods and encourage blended use.


Describing and analysing education resources can sometimes be a frustrating endeavour, but the need for effective resource description is without question in the school library context. Library administrators require a consistent and logical way to organise resources, and patrons require a user-friendly and dependable system for finding, identifying, selecting and obtaining resources that best meet their needs (Oliver, 2010, p15). Through readings and practical activities, I have developed a much clearer understanding of the challenges libraries face in this endeavour. But I have also discovered the satisfaction of solving the puzzle of how best to describe a resource so that it makes sense to users. The understandings I have formed in this course have made me a better librarian, and the school community I serve will certainly receive an improved library service because of this for years to come.



Education Services Australia (2011). Overview and principles of SCIS subject headings. Retrieved from

Education Services Australia (2013). SCIS standards for cataloguing and data entry. Retrieved from

Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description: Creating and managing metadata. London: Facet Publishing.

Hider, P., & Harvey, R (2008). Natural language approaches. In S. Ferguson (ed.) Organising knowledge in a society: Principles and practices in libraries and information centres (pp.154-163). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies.

Oliver, C. (2010). FRBR and FRAD in RDA. In Introducing RDA: A guide to the basics (pp.13-36). Chicago: ALA Editions.


Image source: Library girl by Ben_Kerckx. Public Domain.

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