My experiences in this subject
While I was studying for my undergraduate degree I accepted a job working at the Co-op Bookshop where I studied. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up working there for three years. One of my fondest memories was debating with my colleagues as to where we would file certain books. For example, if we received a title ‘Psychology and the law’ did we file it under law or psychology? We had no official training in how to do this or no official instruction from an institution, however, we did sometimes refer to the Library of Congress (Library of Congress, 2014) for a final say if staff were truly divided. Trove did not exist back in the early 2000s. (National Library of Australia, 2014)
My time working at the Co-op is what motivated me to get started in studying for librarianship. I really loved going to work there and enjoyed sharing a knowledge of available titles with customers and university staff alike. I have been teaching for the last fifteen years and have also enjoyed my time in schools so combining the two passions seemed logical to me. I realise that a bookshop is different to a school library, however, I think that a lot of the principles are shared and I can bring my previous experience and expand on that to service a school community.
I looked forward to this unit and thought that I could expand on my skill base. The first section of the unit focussed on what is an information resource and how do we give a description so that a user can find the right resource. I found this very logical. Also we have to ensure that a collection is well organised so that we can find a resource that is required. I have to expand my knowledge of resources to include more than just books as I had done in my former job. Not only do we have to organise materials well we also have to create a logical way for students and teachers to be able to search what is relevant to that particular topic. We have to be able to describe the attributes and components of said resource. Functional Requirements of Bibliographic Records (FRBR) is where the functions of the library catalogue centre on four ‘user tasks’: finding, identifying, selecting and obtaining library resources. (Hider, 2012)
If the majority of Australian school libraries are using the services of the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) to provide records for their catalogues, why do school librarians need to be able to create metadata? Even in a bookshop there were times a customer would request an obscure item that was not on our database. It was my job to enter this into the computer system, completing as many of the database fields as I could use. When I first saw Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) website (SCIS, 2013) it did not seem so difficult to use. In terms of digital collections, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Department of Education has started to use the Backpack website which allows students to access resources from any computer, school or home. While I knew of this resource, doing this subject has actually encouraged me to use this more with my students.
The unit then started to mention Machine-readable Cataloguing (MARC) records. While I understand this is a computer code, I really struggled with the references to this as I did not understand the code. I understood that there is an advantage to librarians sharing metadata as this saves time for the individual librarian if the record already exists. But the record can only exist if certain standards are met, including functionality, accurateness and comprehensiveness. (Hider, 2012)
The unit then began to look at the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR) and Resource Description and Access (RDA). In trying to understand these systems I read so many books about them. I do not feel that this helped me to actually use and implement RDA until I finally had some cataloguing exercises to complete. I completed the RDA worksheet (Charles Sturt University, not known) made available in the unit and had a look at the RDA Toolkit. (American Library Association, Canadian Library Association, and CILIP: Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, 2010) If there was ever a subject where I needed a tutorial or a workshop this was it! I even consulted two local Teacher Librarians (TLs) (recent graduates by the way!) and asked for their help. Neither felt confident in helping me complete this unit of work. I really had to fumble through on my own and I found the support from the lecturers lacked, as reading through forums, the lecturers’ response was very bleak. (Dowling, 2014 August, 24)
The work then changed to SCIS and how to create a subject record using the standard headings and the associated rules. While this is in the assignment I am handing in now I feel confident that I have a good grasp on this. This reminded me of my old job and this is one of the first pieces of assessment that I have really enjoyed in this degree. (ESA, 2011a) (ESA, 2011b) Once again I completed the worksheets and found these helpful. (Charles Sturt University, 2014) I like the controlled language and the clear set of rules which could be applied. There were a few times I looked up books on Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) to see what subjects similar titles used but was confident with my answers.
Then came the Dewey Decimal System (DDC)! Once again I wish we could have had a one-on-one tutorial with a teacher as I needed a bit of help all the guidelines could not provide me with. (OCLC, 2014a) I had to complete the exercises using Web Dewey 2.0 as I did not have access to the volumes. I found the Classify website was very helpful and most of the exercises were able to be located here. (OCLC, 2014b) I also used the Trove website to check particular book’s DDCs. (National Library of Australia, 2014) I managed to practice doing the worksheets in the course materials (Garrison, 2014)I understood how to use the guide SCIS Standards for cataloguing and data entry. (ESA, 2013)
In conclusion, I have learnt a number of new skills from this subject. It is very different from other subjects I have completed in that it is more skills-based. I feel that there could have been more support in tutorials, or a webinar I this subject as the only feedback I have to know how I am going is the final assessment item.
What I have learnt in ETL505.
My experiences in this subject