If Teacher Librarians don’t usually create metadata, like catalogue records, why do we need to have an understanding of information resource description?
This is a good question. Most Teacher Librarians in Australian schools have the advantage of subscription to the services of the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS), which allows us to download resource records directly to our local Library catalogue. Does this mean that we do not need to know how resources can be described?
Well that’s a big NO! Having an, at least basic understanding of the field of resource description helps the Teacher Librarian to be able to meet the information needs of their users, the students, teachers and parents at the school, as well as provide teaching opportunities for information literacy lessons.
The Teacher Librarian uses their professional knowledge and experience to add to the records provided by SCIS by putting a local spin on them and linking library records to units being undertaken, topics of interest in the school and providing professional development activities around these. The catalogued records can also be further curated at a local level through social media platforms such as Pinterest, Dropbox and Diigo, to name a few. This facilitates end-user efficiency and satisfaction when seeking information.
Similarly, being able to group resources according to the specific delivery requirements of groups of users means that the teacher Librarian must have a clear understanding of the format (or manifestation) of the resource, both at the resource purchasing selection phase, as well as at the discovery phase.
What is most evident to me, in my own practice is the frequency of both students and staff in by-passing the catalogue. For some this may be a time-saving strategy (for them, not me!) and for others it may represent a lack of confidence in undertaking an independent search at the terminal. Either way, it flags an information need for my students and peers that will need to be addressed through explicit teaching and practice.
Image source: Newcastle Region Library: http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/services/newcastle_library