Part C – Critical Reflection

As I embarked on this subject I took the entire discipline of resource description for granted.  I had a minimal understanding of subject headings, a nascent user-based understanding of SCIS and no knowledge at all about how to build DDC numbers, classify items and organise resources so they are easily, consistently and systematically found (Svenonius, E. 2001 p.16).

I quickly discovered that information resource description is complex.  It is deep and at times mystifying.  It is however, essential.

“Bibliographic organisation” (Hider, P. 2013 p. 13) is what we do as librarians. Understanding the four levels of information resource (FRBR) items, and how RDA facilitates the finding, identifying, selecting and obtaining of a resource (Hider, P. 2013 p.117) was invaluable.  It shed light on how the catalogue is constructed and the immense logical and cognitive thought behind an invaluable reserve of information.

In studying ‘Vocabularies’ it was time to get up close and personal with DDC23.  It is a wonderful, practical and adaptive thing but challenging to understand.  As a classification scheme its logical subject based approach provides the end users with accurate, convenient and swift access to information (Svenonius, E. 2001 p.16) – a priority for all libraries.  It is no wonder that Australia has so readily and widely adopted DDC (Martin, G. 2001 p. 54).  It’s ‘hospitality’ (Hider, P. 2013 p.166) is essential as we continually update and add.  The online resource ‘Classify’ (OCLC 2014) is wonderful, as noted in online forums (CSU Module 5 forum).  It is in essence the ‘reference’ section of DDC23 and if one simply types in a resource up comes its place in the Dewey universe.  Fantastically useful.

An exciting area of development in the near, now-ish future, is the advent of semantic web, folksonomy and tagging.  The discipline of cataloguing, will continue in the same broad vein but there are changes afoot.  Costs of maintaining high quality metadata (Hider, P. 2013 p. 189), the changing behaviours of end users and the adaptive requirements of information resources signifies a new era.  Resource description maintained by harnessing the collective intelligence (Alemu, G., Stevens, B., Ross, P. & Chandler, J. (2012) p.314) and needs of end-users, means that resources might be more easily found by those using it. A departure from standard/controlled vocabularies could be problematic for resource retrieval – homonyms and synonyms the tip of the iceberg (Hider, P 2013 p. 190) and it may also signify the end of editorial quality, structure and an authority in resource description, leading to a chaotic landscape of information (Alemu, G. et. al. (2012) p. 317), time will tell.  Library catalogues are not the first port of call for people seeking information (Hider, P. 2013 p.99) so we have to adapt to this change by making the interface more relevant or placing content into search engines.

A pertinent example is to be found right where I work.  A new interactive OPAC is being sourced.  The resources in our school will be catalogued using SCIS (with added RDA!) and DDC23 but Web 2.0 will add to the way the resources are accessed by the student body with interactivity incorporated – folksonomy and tagging will be actively encouraged.  I particularly love the visualisation of tagging clouds (Gunter, D. in Polanka, S. 2012 p.203).  Student-friendly vocabularies will be incorporated into the catalogue by users  adding to, rather than replacing the original cataloguing.  This is a radical change from the way metadata was historically used and created (Hider, P. 2013 p. 70).  This is the future – a seismic change from the way metadata was historically used and created (Hider, P. 2013 p. 70) but in my view an exciting one.

This course has provided me with the where-with-all to get down with WebDewey, subject headings and navigate my way around information resource description.  Essential for a TL or a ‘metadata librarian’ (Hider, P. 2013 p.189).

References

Alemu, G., Stevens, B., Ross, P. & Chandler, J. (2012) The Social Space of Metadata: Perspectives of LIS Academics and Postgraduates on Standards –Based and Socially Constructed Metadata Approaches Journal of Library Metadata 12:4, 311-344, DOI: 10.1080/19386389.2012.735523

Classify (2014) Retrieved from: http://classify.oclc.org/classify2/

CSU Forum 5 (2014) Retrieved from: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL505_201460_W_D/page/430569b8-fe33-4874-005d-14117967e95d

Hider, P. (2012). Information Resource Description Creating and Managing Metadata. London: Facet Publishing.

Hider, P., & Harvey, R. (2008). Organising Knowledge in a global society. Principles and practice in libraries and information centres. Wagga Wagga: Centre for information studies. Charles Sturt University.

Johnson, P. (2009). Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. Chicago: American Library Association.

Martin, G. (2001) DC and Australia from the 19th to 21st Century. In Seachange: Cataloguing in a Dot Com World: 14th National Cataloguing Conference Preprints. Geelong. Vic.: Organizing Committee of the 14th National Cataloguing Conference, pp.54-57

Polanka, S. (2012). The Semantic Web: History, Applications and Future Possibilities.  E-Reference Context and Discoverability in Libraries: Issues and Concepts (pp. 1-312). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. DOI:10.4018/978-1-61350-308-9

Svenonius, E. (2001). The intellectual foundation of information organization. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

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About kblaich

I live in Melbourne, Australia, have one lovely husband, one delightful daughter, one bouncy son, lots of pets (2 dogs and 3 cats) and work at a primary school part time. I am currently studying my Masters in Teacher Librarianship through Charles Sturt University.
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