Perhaps one of the most challenging conversations to have in libraries and learning communities as we move towards 2013 is the arrival of RDA. Yes, here is a new acronym that needs to be embedded in our thinking. 2013 will be a year of living dangerously when RDA arrives. Don’t know about RDA yet? Then it’s time to get excited, and up-to-date!
As we close off 2012 many school librarians are busy with their annual stocktake (at least those who haven’t adopted a rolling model of collection maintenance). These same librarians and their staff are perhaps oblivious of the exciting developments that are taking place that will impact on how we manage collections and how we support curriculum in the years to come.
For my money, this is where the rubber hits the ground. Its where the need for proper professionals in schools becomes more important than ever. Here we have innovation happening under our very (information professional) noses – yet we have staff in school library senior positions who have no qualifications in the field or who have not done any further academic training to keep up with the changes needed to manage collections in the digital world that is the 21st century. The next few years are going to be very exciting and challenging making it doubly vital that school leadership understand the importance of having well-qualified teacher librarians and school librarians leading information services in schools.
These very issues were highlighted at the recent SCIS ASKS Forum held in Melbourne recently. How will education libraries best serve their communities in 2015? Support for the new Australian curriculum makes it imperative that we include emerging technologies and global understanding of information organization in the knowledge matrix that we support. It’s no longer about organizing those container of information that’s important – it’s the connections and access pathways and interpersonal learning experiences that a good school library can facilitate. It is a teacher librarian’s job to empower students and teachers information access needs, and to manage systems that support this. We are very lucky in Australia that Education Services Australia, and the Schools Catalogue Information Service have their eye on this for us.
School library systems, media systems, LMS systems etc need to become the 24/7 structured access point for meaning connections. Here we have the key issue in that our multiple systems need to draw on as well as contribute to a knowledge matrix – one that connects to the various information repositories beyond our schools as well.
Old Questions: New Answers
How can this be done? Is there a vision for this? Enter the search and access power that is driven by Web 3.0 developments and the semantic web. What’s different about school libraries now is that collections are really no longer about Dewey, or silo catalogue systems. In a world of API and open data, libraries ( particularly school libraries) are faced with a significant conceptual challenge. Tim Berners-Lee introduced linked data in 2006 and unleashed the future! In 2007 the joint steering committee for Resource Description and Access said that RDA
would be a new standard for resource description for the digital world.
The point of it all is to provide a consistent, flexible and extensible framework for both the technical and content description of all types of resources and all types of content – everywhere, anywhere, always! When search engine collaboration in 2011 added schema.org, we knew that the future was here. Traditional library data has had its day – and this century we are all about linked data ontologies that facilitate computer communications and interaction for the benefit of human knowledge.
There is so much to learn, and so much to deploy. Essentially we need to create a new roadmap of open access and interoperability, to allow RDA new standards in schools to take us out of the confines of traditional library services, and to engage with the Semantic web.
Metadata has been changing everything, and information professionals have been leading these developments, mindful of the semantic web and linked data. There is a lot to discover and learn about. If you are a teacher librarian, please make this part of your professional learning agenda for 2013. We are on the web and of the web, and our opportunities to improve the information and knowledge matrix in schools is fantastic – if we know how!
Visit SCIS Asks Forum, and check out the information from the Forum – even add to the discussion via the survey forms.
Thanks to SCIS for allowing me to kick-start the day with some provocative ideas about Strategic Directions for School Libraries.