I have just completed my final assignment for this gruelling subject and have exhaled a huge sigh of relief. If learning is about being challenged, frustrated, overwhelmed, completely consumed and changed by the experience then this subject wins the prize! I have been all of those things at times and more but there is no question that I have learned; in fact the learning curve in this subject is astonishing. I do not currently nor have I ever worked in a library and therefore am completely unfamiliar with the process of cataloguing beyond a basic understanding gained during professional placement.
To go from this basic understanding to a far more complex understanding involving such things as descriptive cataloguing , metadata standards and effective subject access is quite amazing to me and has been no small feat. My eyes have been opened to the sheer complexity of the task of resource description and analysis and the level of expertise required by professionals in this field. So much goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in order to allow the average library user to just type in an author, the title of a work or a subject and instantly have access to a range of resources. An introduction to Resource Description and Access (RDA) and the use of the RDA Toolkit (2010) for describing resources and maximising access to them gave me a clear insight into and a chance to experience how some of this ‘behind the scenes’ work is carried out.
This was developed further with the introduction to subject headings using the Schools Catalogue Information Services (SCIS) and the SCIS Catalogue (2014); and to classification numbers using Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), and their adaptations by SCIS to create call numbers. I gained an understanding of how subject headings are derived by SCIS as access points in order to maximise access to resources, particularly in a school library catalogue. I gained practical experience by determining subject headings for several resources that were as specific and extensive as possible using the SCIS Guidelines (2011) and Standards for Cataloguing and Data Entry (2013) and their controlled language approach appropriate to primary and secondary school students. I gained an understanding of the development of SCIS call numbers using WebDewey (2014) classification numbers and adapting them following the SCIS Standards to create a call number appropriate for use by the SCIS Catalogue.
One of the great things about SCIS is its policy of ongoing revision so that the needs of users are best met and the searching of library management systems is improved. This revision process is undertaken by SCIS staff but is also open to user contributions. This was evidenced during the final assignment when a SCIS Call Number that all students had been working on suddenly changed in response to feedback from one of our students. While frustrating for those of us who had spent many hours working on that particular item it was also a valuable lesson on the merits and professionalism of SCIS.
This subject as stated earlier has been a phenomenal learning curve but a very valuable one that has given me an excellent working understanding of the ways in which knowledge and information are organised for retrieval.
American Library Association, Canadian Library Association & Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. (2010). RDA Toolkit. Resource description and access. Retrieved from http://access.rdatoolkit.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/
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
Education Services Australia Ltd. (2014). SCIS Catalogue. Retrieved from http://opac.scis.curriculum.edu.au/vwebv/searchBasic
Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC). (2014). WebDewey. Retrieved from http://dewey.org/webdewey/login/login.html
Schools Catalogue Information Services (SCIS). (2011). Guidelines to using SCIS subject headings. In SCIS subject headings. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/SCISSLguidelines.pdf