Critical Reflection (10 marks)
Using the blog you created in ETL401, post a final critical reflection on the topics studied in this subject. You should be able to investigate a wide range of ideas and issues related to cataloging materials in school libraries. You should consider your new understandings formed within this subject as well as your ideas and perspective on the future of description and organization of materials in school libraries. Be sure to include your blog URL on the .doc or .docx file you post into EASTS and that this final critical reflection post is clearly labelled for ETL505. Also, double check your link works before submitting.
Provide a reference list of tools used and works consulted in one list for all at the end of the assignment.
This subject has been the most challenging by far! There have been many obstacles both academically and personally. Having given birth to my first baby only two days before the first assignment was due proved to be challenging, however I had submitted the assignment well before the due date and even passed! For majority of the course I have been in a daze, with the ominous amounts of reading, jargon, rules and guidelines to get through and mentally process, I can say that there have been many times where I could’ve given up. However, this was my very last subject to complete before graduation, so I was determined to get through it.
One of the key questions underpinning the learning in this subject has been:
Why is it necessary for information agencies such as school libraries to organise information?
Hider (2012) identifies two main reasons in answer to this question:
- To create relevant collections that meet the learning, recreational or other information needs of the user.
- To provide effective access to the collection.
Ultimately, the purpose of the organisation of information is for its retrieval. If the teacher librarian is not approaching the organisation of information in the school library with Hider’s points in mind, the vital role that the library plays in the school’s educational programs can be devalued, as can the role of the teacher librarian.
The learning curve in terms of developing an understanding of the language of information resource description has been very steep. I struggled early in the subject with the definition of metadata. Like so many of the terms and concepts in this subject, with practise and use, clarity gradually developed. Metadata (as the term is used in ETL505) can be considered a product – the actual information resource description, the structured data about data (Hider, 2012).
While the initial focus on the importance of metadata to information retrieval seemed obvious, I realised I hadn’t given much thought to the effect of using appropriate values to record metadata elements. As Hider (2012) points out, metadata only works if people understand and use it (p. 9). Cataloguers, including teacher librarians, must identify and record bibliographic elements essential to information retrieval (Welsh & Batley, 2012) that work for their users. I therefore understood why library cataloguing is highly standardised, and I have learned to value detailed, precise metadata as a key way to guiding users to the best resources for their needs.
In learning about RDA I have been reminded of Cutter’s assertion that the most important subject cataloguing principle is the consideration of the best interests of the catalogue user (Drabenstott, Simcox and Williams, 1999). The implementation of RDA is designed to help libraries transition to the technological capabilities available via the Internet, provide a more rewarding search experience through the use of Functional Requirements for Bibliographical Records (FRBR) and Functional Requirements for Authority Records (FRAD), and will work with Machine Readable Cataloguing Records (MARC) records during this transition.
I have learnt a huge amount about the creation of Dewey numbers and the interpretations of Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) in a very short period of time. I have come to agree with the viewpoint of SCIS, that the assigning of RDA access points and vocabulary based subject access is ultimately more important than DDC numbers (SCIS, 2013). Students are not likely to search by number or have any understanding of how the DDC system is organised. They are, however, much more likely to want information about a particular subject or resources by a particular author.
The challenge for the teacher librarian is getting the library users to value the effectiveness of the library catalogue for their information searches. A library will only be able to function effectively if its collection is properly organised and managed and that its resources within the collection can be easily located.
Drabenstott, Karen M, Simcox, Schelle, & Williams, Marie. (1999). Do librarians understand the subject headings in library catalogs? Reference & User Services Quarterly, 38(4), 369–387.
Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description: creating and managing metadata. London: Facet.
Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS). (2013). SCIS Standards for cataloguing and data entry. Carlton South: Education Services Australia Ltd. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/SCISCatStandards.pdf