Posted by: eheino | October 13, 2014

ETL505 Critical Reflection

ETL505 has given me a deep appreciation for SCIS and all it offers school libraries, as I now know how much time and effort goes into describing just one resource, and all the aspects that need to be considered to create a complete record (Heino, 2014).

ETL505 was primarily concerned with helping people find information in a world of abundant sources. Everyday people are turning away from libraries as information sources, instead preferring the simplicity and speed of a Google Search (Fast & Campbell, 2004). A major question asked by information professionals today is ‘How can I compete?’ The profusion of information available makes it difficult for people to find the best information. This can be an invisible problem. Many are satisfied with what they find on Google, but would be less satisfied if they knew what they had missed (Hider, 2012). This is why professional cataloguing is so important. Library catalogues need to distinguish themselves from simple search tools in order to compete, and using tools like RDA facilitate this by providing detailed descriptions of all their resources so users can accurately find library resources using a variety of search terms.

One of a teacher-librarian’s primary functions is to help patrons gain access to the quality information available in the library. This is a multi-faceted process. Patrons need to know what is available, how to find it themselves, and when/how to ask for help. Without this knowledge, they are likely to ‘just Google it.’ Teacher-librarians are in the unique position to be able to turn this trend around. As library advocates we can teach students from primary school onwards to turn to the library for their information needs before reaching for Google. We can do this by:

  • Providing students with a professionally managed catalogue that follows the guidelines in SCIS (2011) while keeping in mind user needs
  • Teaching students information literacy skills including using the catalogue, Dewey and online search skills
  • Being available for students’ information needs and proactively seeking students who need help
  • Actively promoting library resources to the school community

These four points meet aspects of the ALIA/ASLA professional excellence standards for Teacher Librarians (ALIA/ASLA, 2004), further emphasising the need for proactivity in these areas.

This may sound relatively simple in theory, but in practice there are many questions and issues to address.

The major issue for public school libraries is the slow progression from OASIS to Oliver, as well as monetary and time constraints on what teacher-librarians can practically do:

  • OASIS is an old and unappealing system. Even the Student Portal catalogue isn’t usefully organised and is unappealing to children. Until Oliver is introduced, this is an unavoidable problem.
  • SCIS subject headings are limiting, and teaching students to use their controlled vocabulary can be quite dry. Teacher-librarians can either add to the SCIS records themselves using a time-consuming broader search vocabulary in the notes, or purchase add-ons which make searching easier. This latter course, however, would be quite expensive and decisions would need to be made about library priorities.
  • Purchasing integrated systems such as Prima can be costly and can result in metadata loss, which could then lead to information loss.

At this stage in my career I don’t think I am qualified to answer these questions, but ETL505 has given me an excellent foundation on which to build my opinion on the direction of school libraries and information resource description.


Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)/Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2004). Standards for professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from

Fast, K., & Campbell, D. (2004). “I still like Google”: University student perceptions of searching OPACs and the web. Proceedings of the American Society of International Science and Technology. 41(1), 138-146. DOI: 10.1002/meet.1450410116

Heino, E. (2014, October 8). Working on assignment 2.  In A Maze of discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from:

Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description: Creating and managing metadata. London: Facet Publishing.

Schools Catalogue Information Services [SCIS]. (2011). Guidelines to using SCIS subject headings. In SCIS subject headings. Retrieved from


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