ETL505: Assessment 2, Part C – Critical Reflection

To be honest, I’d never really thought too much about how I would define what information organisation is. If I’d tried I’d have probably been stumped for words. One of those concepts you feel you understand but just can’t quite describe. However, in reality I didn’t understand how broad a concept it really is. Simply put, information organisation is information combined together to create a resource (Hider, 2012, p.13). Now that encompasses a lot!

Metadata is another term I’d greatly underestimated. Prior to studying ETL505 I’d probably only heard it mentioned in the media on topics to do with national security. Even still, I wouldn’t have been able to define it with any confidence. Like information organisation, it too is a term that encompasses a great deal. Metadata is the term used to describe information resources, data about data (Liu, 2007, p.5). To complicate things further, the creation of metadata is often quite subjective in nature (Smiraglia, 2012, p.159).

I think by this early stage in the unit I was feeling quite overwhelmed with what librarianship really encompassed. How can all this information be brought under some control and made manageable?

It was great to learn that teacher-librarians have a range of tools available to bring about some consistency in the management of all this information. The Functional Requirements of Bibliographic Records (FRBR) is one such tool, but also one I struggled to get my head around. Being a concept model, rather than rules, is what I found challenging. To me FRBR seemed to leave itself open to interpretation too much. However, I’d yet to come to the realisation that it was just one of many tools. When partnered with Resource Description and Access (RDA), which is essentially a set of rules, I could begin to see a road map forming. That combination of RDA’s prescribed standards, with assistance from FRBR providing further guidance and recognising that not everything in this field is black and white.

I also enjoyed learning about Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), a system of organisation that just about everyone seems to be aware of. I found it interesting to see how call numbers are formed under DDC, and some of the differences that exist between Trove and SCIS in applying DDC. Particularly the differences in how cataloguers may choose to apply DDC for use on databases such as Trove or Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS).

I think at this point I became convinced that the subjective nature of information organisation will always be present. Oliver (2010, p.10) reminds us to consider all the changes information management has encountered over the last 50 years. A timeframe in which much new content as emerged, as well as carriers of that content. Naturally, new processes have also emerged in response. It’s very dynamic field and some flexibility is clearly needed to keep up with it.

A degree of flexibility is always going to be needed. It has to exist to ensure that information management tools remain relevant. The subjectivity that occurs as a result is something we all need to accept, and make work to the benefit of all information seekers. The responsibility this grants has both challenged and overwhelmed me at times. To me, it’s the key challenge and what I’ll take away from ETL505 more than anything.


References
:

Hider, P. (2012), Information resource description. London: Facet.

Liu, J. (2007). Metadata applications in the digital library. In Metadata and its applications in the digital library: approaches and practices (pp. 147- 164). London: Libraries Unlimited.

Oliver, C. (2010). Introducing RDA: A guide to the basics. London: Facet.

Smiraglia, R. (2012). Metadata: A cataloguer’s primer. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au

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