ETL505 Critical Reflection

This subject has been a huge learning curve for me, but after my initial trepidation I found that I have enjoyed it.  It introduced me to a whole new language and terminology, beginning with terms such as; Resource Description and Access (RDA),  Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR) and “metadata”.  The exercises we completed using the RDA toolkit, followed by the tasks in our assignment were quite gruelling to say the least, but once I gained an understanding of what we were actually doing, I found them very interesting. I was particularly interested to read the information regarding RDA being introduced to replace AACR2 since the beginning of 2013.  As Hider (2012) pointed out early in our readings, due to the enormous amount and wide variety of information resources in the 21st century, it is essential libraries catalogue resources in the most user friendly way to allow patrons convenient access.

I have only had limited experience with cataloguing prior to this subject, but have discovered it is something that I really enjoy. This subject has enlightened me to the origins behind the cataloguing system used within libraries on many different levels.  In retrospect I now realise that I was often using the Dewey classifications automatically as a tool of the library without ever really thinking about the origins or processes.  It is an eye opener when you have been using a system and taking it for granted, to then go back to its roots and the methodology behind it all.

I certainly didn’t realise the amount of knowledge or work required is assigning the actual cataloguing numbers or subject headings.  Likewise with what Dewey Decimal system numbers are used for, and why specific items are allocated certain numbers. Having access to WebDewey, the online version of the Dewey decimal classification system, was extremely helpful, in particular for the second assignment.

Devising and allocating subject headings via the SCIS website was also very interesting.  I discovered early on in my studies that when searching for an item using the SCIS catalogue it is necessary to be as specific as possible with the description or information initially entered, in order to save time and cut down on the number of irrelevant topics or items that are returned in the search.

I now have a greater understanding of both SCIS and the Dewey decimal classification system, in addition to understanding what the number and categories mean.  This course has enlightened me as to why particular numbers are used rather than just accepting that a heading has been used previously so it will be used again. As library resources continue to grow and diversify, the importance of international standards, such as RDA, becomes more crucial in order to meet the needs of digital citizens of the 21st century. Although many library staff may not actually be involved in the hands on role of cataloguing, I believe at least a background knowledge in what is required in this vast topic is very important for any dedicated information professional.





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


SCIS RDA New Cataloguing Rules (2013) retrieved from


SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry (2013) retrieved from


WebDewey (DDC) retrieved from;jsessionid=7EF74116CC37BFF7B76779D98B01791E


Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar