Monday, 13 October 2014

ETL 505 Describing Educational Resources

Assignment 2 Part C. Critical Reflection

Information organisation is the way by which information resources can be accessed, for potentially World Wide users, through universal methods. Organisation is necessary to facilitate information retrieval (Hider, 2012, p11). Information organisation is achieved through systematic labelling, arranging and indexing of the library collection. 

The main function of libraries is to meet the information needs of its users.  Information organisation is essential for libraries as it facilitates information retrieval.  This organisation starts with physical arrangement and labelling of resources, ensuring that items with similar content are located near one another, and clearly marked.  Further to this is the necessity to index the collection, collating metadata that allows the collection to be searched through an online public access catalogue (OPAC). It allows users to access their libraries catalogue outside opening hours via the Web.  Some are also integrated with circulation records and items can even be accessed and/or reserved when the user is not onsite (Hider, p41).

Metadata standards, like the Schools Catalogue and Information Service (SCIS) in Australia and New Zealand, allow records to be shared between library systems.  This reduces duplicating the creation of catalogue entries by different libraries which is unnecessarily time consuming, and therefore costly.  Standards assist in the creation of consistent records across institutions. Since July 2013 new standard of metadata creation, RDA, has been implemented.   This new standard retains some aspects of the previous standard (AACR2), but endeavours to be user and computer friendly, and better able to accommodate online resources as well as the variety of physical resources.  School libraries can serve their communities best by maintaining a well organised collection, both physical and online, which has been selected according to user needs.

SCIS uses the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system to organise library collections for information retrieval purposes. SCIS adopts the current editions of DDC as they become available. The current editions are the 23rd edition of the full classification, DDC23, which SCIS started using in October this year, and the 14th edition of the abridged classification, ADDC14.

Initially ETL505 was challenging due to the vast amount of terms that were unfamiliar to me. It was an area outside my comfort zone. I had a basic understanding of the Dewey Decimal System and limited knowledge of the role that SCIS plays in assisting Australian school libraries to provide their school community with access to their collections resources. I had no knowledge at all about how to build DDC numbers, classify items and organise resources so they are easily, consistently and systematically found.

As a result of studying ETL505, I now have an understanding of how to effectively create SCIS subject headings using the SCIS Guidelines to Using SCIS Subject Headings, Overview and Principles of SCIS Subject Headings and SCIS Subject Headings documents. I also understand the value of using the notes area of the records to add topic names to support access needs to resources that have been deemed suitable for units of work or reading programs in a specific school.

I have learned how to use the SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry to create DDC23 classification numbers using WebDewey. I have come to value the assistance that websites like OCLCs Classify and Trove can provide when creating DDC23 classification numbers.

As information professionals, it is important to have a foundational knowledge of the above processes even if we are not doing it, for the most part, ourselves.