This is my third year working as a Teacher-Librarian and in that time I have learned a lot about cataloguing and organising resources. Or at least I thought I had until I attempted ETL505. This subject has been a very steep learning curve however it has been one that has helped me to make more sense of tools I have been using (Clickview, SCIS and Library Management System AccessIt).
I have been using SCIS and AccessIt to catalogue library books and resources but there has been a lot about both resources that I have not understood. About a year ago, we changed Library Management Systems, moving from an older version of Oliver to AccessIt. I was frustrated at how poorly the material from Oliver was merged into AccessIt and how much had to be manually adjusted but learning about access points, interoperable metadata and crosswalks has helped me to understand why this was not a very smooth transition. I now have a greater appreciation of why this was so difficult for the AccessIt technicians to complete.
SCIS was a website I used to catalogue materials and if I needed an OPAC, I would always go to Trove. Getting to know the SCIS site, particularly the OPAC and the Subject Headings, has really helped me to understand the information contained in catalogue entries, and how controlled vocabularies have really made the system far more accessible and effective than it would otherwise be. The notions of authority control and controlled vocabularies are not something I had considered but the consistency they bring to the cataloguing process makes the search for information far more reliable.
Getting to know Dewey was quite difficult. As an avid library user, I have understood the Dewey basics for years but the rules and complexities were not something I was aware of until completing ETL505. I had to revisit the module notes and exercises repeatedly as well as constantly experiment with the website, trying to find ways to work things out.
We have recently implemented Clickview in our school. Many programs that our staff have requested from the exchange (a huge range of previously recorded TV programs available for downloading to our own school database) have not been catalogued beyond titles and screening dates. Learning about subject headings and being able to use SCIS to look them up will make the records we create for these programs far more accurate and consistent with the terms used in the rest of our library catalogue.
I am under no illusions that I now have adequate skills to do independent cataloguing. However, completing this subject has given me a greater awareness of the importance of ensuring our cataloguing is consistent with existing systems. I am grateful for what I have learnt in the hours experimenting with RDA, SCIS and Dewey as it has given me reference points to go to for future cataloguing issues and questions.
The organization of information and resources in school libraries will continue to improve as the supporting organisations like SCIS continue to develop, focusing particularly on user needs and the language they use, ensuring the consistency and relevance of the information they include in their catalogue records. My job as a teacher librarian, is to ensure this consistency across our whole school collection so that our students can have confidence in the value and relevance of the information we make available to them.
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