Before commencing this unit I had no understanding of Resource Description and Access (RDA), standardised vocabularies and the importance of meta-data for effective information organisation and retrieval. My Dewey Decimal Classification skills have been honed in recent times, but I really had no idea of the tools available to me that can help my school library shelves to be more helpful and appropriate to my students. So, it has to be said that this unit has been a timely and very useful part of my library education.
The main message I have taken away is that it is my job to ensure that firstly I make available quality resources for my students, and then, as Hider (2012, p.xi) suggests organise these to facilitate effective access to them. We live in an age where information is abundant, and this does make it difficult for students to find, select and obtain the information and resources they need due to being saturated. Information organisation and the careful attribution of meta-data enables the searcher to find what they need on demand. Meta-data provides information about a resource and supports resource discovery by allowing the user to differentiate and search for different elements and attributes. The primary goal is to ensure that end users are able to effectively search, select and access the information they need. In order for this to happen metadata must be comprehensive, accurate and consistent. The application of standards assists this by providing a prescribed structure and content.
It is imperative that the creator of metadata considers the needs and behaviour of the end user in order to best facilitate their search by modifying where necessary. I reflected in my blog here that during the unit I had immediately recognised that the physical collection in my school library is not organised in a way to facilitate information retrieval. My new understanding of Subject Headings and the SCIS standards applied to them, has resulted in my updating a number of catalogue records to more accurately reflect the nature of the collection. In addition, my new knowledge of Dewey Decimal Classification has enable me to re-classify a number of resources to more accurately group them in subject or topic areas, or to simply correct inaccurate cataloguing done in the past. This has been hugely satisfying, and just the start of the collection being updated and refreshed.
Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description : Creating and managing metadata. London: Facet Publishing.