This unit comes at the end of my Masters journey, and in many ways pulls together the many varied threads that run through the MEdTL course. As a teacher librarian I live and breathe information. Whether it’s locating resources or developing units of work on information literacy skills, information is my life. It is my role to provide excellent library and information services management. I have a responsibility to provide quality information resources and facilitate effective access to those resources (Australian Library and Information Association & Australian School Library Association, 2004).
I began this unit, having just moved into a full time teacher librarian role, excited about developing practical experience with cataloging resources. The reality was, I struggled with developing the skills necessary for describing resources according to Resource Description and Access [RDA] (Joint Steering Committee for the development of RDA, 2015). I felt deflated with my results in regards to RDA in the first assignment and resentful of having to spend time on a skill that appeared to be beyond the scope of the teacher librarian role. This was reinforced on my recent study visit in Sydney, where a number of the libraries we visited do not engage in cataloguing at all, with resources arriving to them shelf ready. I began to think what is the point of this.
Then I visited a library where one of the librarians talked passionately about the role of subject headings, RDA and understanding classification systems. This was a light bulb moment for me. This librarian explained resource description within the context of her educational library and I was suddenly astounded with myself, that just because something was proving hard for me to learn, I thought it perhaps had no place in my role as teacher librarian. I re-evaluated the libraries I had seen, the roles the librarians played in a wide variety of contexts and the resource description access they engaged in. I finally began to clue in to the critical role that resource description plays in the provision of access within these contexts.
Over the past two weeks I have approached this unit with a renewed sense of focus. I can see the potential for using the SCIS (Education Services Australia, 2013) subject headings as a teaching tool towards developing more efficient search skills not only for myself, but also for the students and teachers who access the school library OPAC. I have thoroughly enjoyed working my way through the Dewey, and it has given me a much deeper understanding of the workings of the non-fiction collection in my library. I have begun using SCIS in a more effective way, and I can see now the importance of understanding how the subject headings work and using them to my advantage. It will also help me to identify any gaps within my collection and whether the needs of the users in my context require the gap to be filled.
Overall, this unit has been challenging, and yet rewarding for the personal growth I feel I have made in understanding the role of resource provision and access within the school library. I believe this strengthens my ability to teach information literacy skills to my end users, enabling them to access the resources within the school library with more success.