ETL505 – Assessment item 2 – Subject access. Part C: Critical Reflection

Considering the role of the school library as a resource centre and the Teacher Librarian (TL) the coordinator, the need is created for the TL to be highly skilled in the processes of analysing, describing, and importing resource items into the library catalogue allowing users the greatest opportunity of finding what they are looking for. This process has been supported, initially with information on library catalogue cards, to the modern day where electronic metadata is created by publishers and metadata specialists, managed by services like the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS, 2015) and made available to the school library management system called Office Automation and School Information System (OASIS, n.d.). With countless ways in which one could look at, and therefore describe, an information resource (Hider, 2012) the purpose of this subject is to impart knowledge and skills the TL will require to accurately describe resources intended to become part of the school library collection.

Initially, I was aware of the TL’s need for a deep understanding of information description and the role this plays in managing their school library to best serve the students, teachers and patrons of the school and wider community (Kay, 2015 blog ), but had yet to be introduced to formal processes. Now, with understanding of the international cataloguing standard, Resource Description and Access (RDA, n.d.), and its predecessors, the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR) and the 2nd edition of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2002 revision (AACR2R, 2005), I have developing skills which allow for creation of metadata that can be arranged independently of the resources it represents (Hider, 2012). With policy 2:A1 of the SCIS Standards For Cataloguing and Data Entry, 2013 Edition, stating ‘RDA is to be used as the standard for the description of library material’ (Education Services Australia, 2013) the gaining of this knowledge is essential. It provides the opportunity to liaise with the teaching community to create additional subject specific identifiers, in notes, which will allow for location of student subject specific task related resources.

Metadata allows for the transfer of resource information into library catalogues. The challenge is now to create an access process which presents this information in a form that is useful to both indexer and searcher. This is achieved by standardizing of search language through using controlled vocabulary. Each concept is represented by one, and only one, particular term, and where each term can mean only one particular concept (Hider, 2012). The SCIS Subject Headings tool (SCIS, 2015) uses a controlled vocabulary to achieve this goal. Permitted subject headings are offered in normal print, and non-permitted headings are presented in italics, and then linked to permitted headings. Experience in this process has lead to my deepening understanding of controlled vocabulary.

Once the metadata is created and subject headings are allocated to each resource a process is needed to locate the item. For hard copy items this is can be achieved via a wide range identifying systems. School libraries use the Dewey Decimal Classification system. My introduction to this system has created understanding of how the decimal number identifies specific subjects and aspects of each item, allowing for its unique position within the library collection. My ongoing journey as High School TL will strengthen my skills and deepen my understanding towards library best practice.


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