ETL 505. Part C: Critical Reflection

On completing the ETL 505 unit as part of my Masters of Education (Teacher Librarian) I really feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in gaining new skills and knowledge towards achieving the elusive and daunting role of school teacher librarian! Daunting, because at the beginning of my course last year, I had absolutely no knowledge or understanding of the role of a teacher librarian or the intricacies of management systems, digital information skills, the Dewey Decimal Classification scheme (DDC23), Marc 2 encoding, RDA cataloguing, or information resource description. I felt everyone spoke in a code I couldn’t decipher and of course, everyone knew what they were doing except for me!

I’m happy to say that through participating in the weekly forums (CSU, ETL 505, Interact, Forums weeks 1-13, 2014) I soon realised that I wasn’t the only student who was on a ‘big learning curve’, and how incredibly complicated classification and cataloguing was, and how valuable a role efficient management systems were to the smooth operation of information searching and retrieval to satisfy the needs of the users, the students.

As I steadily worked through the various modules I began to appreciate how important skills, knowledge and expertise in cataloguing and data management has become within a school library context in today’s current digital environment, where the information environment is constantly changing and evolving. On my study visits to various different library environments I was introduced to the term ‘metadata’, of which I had no idea what it meant and within what context it was used. On my practical experience at a school library, I constantly felt there were big areas of the resident teacher librarian’s daily work that I had absolutely no knowledge of. In particular, cataloguing, classification and management systems, together with all the unfamiliar terminology that accompanied these new concepts! Fortunately, Philip Hider’s Information Resource Description, has enabled me to become more familiar with this unknown terminology and opened up a ‘new world’ of information description I have learned to engage with and utilise within my assessment tasks (2012).

After becoming familiar with the term ‘metadata’ for resource description that is searched on in order to access or retrieve quality information from the online environment (CSU, ETL 505, Module 1, 2014). Working through Modules 4 and 5’s controlled vocabularies, natural language approaches and RDA cataloguing guidelines using FRBR (Modules 4, 5, 2014), together with completing the two assessment tasks, I am more aware of the need for a universal set of guidelines and standards which enable an exchange of information resources and data throughout an extended national network of school libraries and other information agencies.

The SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry and SCIS Subject Headings has addressed some of these areas for school libraries in Australia and New Zealand, by becoming an invaluable online information tool for school libraries to utilise and move forward with into the future (School Catalogue Information Service, 2011). Content-based information retrieval has become a key means of accessing online information and metadata-based methods still provide access in ways that search engines fail to do, so school libraries need to be continually upgrading their catalogue and data management systems to keep up with the digitalised information environment of our 21st century educational context.

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References:

Charles Sturt University. (2014). ETL 505, Interact, Forums, Weeks 1-12.

Charles Sturt University. (2014). ETL 505, Interact, Modules 1, 4, 5.

Education Services Australia Ltd. (2013). SCIS Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry. Retrieved from: http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/SCIS_standards_2014.pdf

Hider P. (2012). Information Resource Description. London: Facet Publishing.

Online Computer Library Centre. (2011). WebDewey. Retrieved from: http://dewey.org/webdewey/login/login.html

School Catalogue Information Service. (2012) SCIS subject headings. Retrieved from: http://scis.curriculum.edu.au/scisshl/