Competency G:
Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information such as classification and controlled vocabulary systems, cataloging systems, metadata schemas or other systems for making information accessible to a particular clientele.

What was Intimidating Can Become Enjoyed

Section 1 of 4:

An Introduction to What Competency G Means to Me and to Library and Information Science

Definitions:

Classification system: "Classification systems organize library collections into subject-related categories, so similar topics will be grouped together on the shelf" (The University of British Columbia, 2021, Classification systems section). 

Controlled vocabulary: “A principled vocabulary list that is used to control the way database terms, usually subjects, are entered” (Brown & Bell, 2018, p. 364). 

          Significance of controlled vocabularies: Controlled vocabularies “promote consistency in preferred terms and the

          assignment of the same terms to similar content” (Harpring, 2010, p. 12).

Cataloging systems: are “bibliographic and authority records in the library catalog, the database of books, serials, sound recordings, moving images, cartographic materials, computer files, e-resources etc. that are owned by a library” (Librarianship Studies & Information Technology, 2020, para. 1).

Metadata schema: is “a labeling, tagging or coding system used for recording cataloging information or structuring descriptive records. A metadata schema establishes and defines data elements and the rules governing the use of data elements to describe a resource. (Zhang & Gourley, 2008).

Why Competency G is Important to Me as a Professional:

          The organization of information is important to me for many reasons, the most pressing being representation. If people cannot find accurate and positive portrayals of themselves because that information is either not present, organized under an inaccurate or harmful category, or the organizational system is not intuitive or difficult to use, the organizational system has failed those people. For instance, though continuously undergoing revisions, the Dewey Decimal System has historically used racist and sexist classifications, such as classifying “...“women’s work” separately from "jobs", and African American culture separately from American culture" (Gattullo Marrocolla, 2019, p. 1). I want inclusive, anti-racist, anti-sexist, ant-homophobic, anti-ableism, anti-colonizer, trauma informed, organization of information. 

 

Why Competency G is Important to the Profession as a Whole:

         Providing information that is organized in supportive, inclusive, and informed, classification systems advances social justice causes in the information professions, libraries in particular. The American Library Association’s core values support the organization of information into easily accessible and inclusive systems (ALA, 2019). The information professions must embrace systems of inclusive and accurate organization and separate themselves from organizational systems that perpetuate racist, sexist, homophobic, or other discriminatory categorization practices.

 

What Competency G Looks Like to Me:

         I would like to provide an example of what excellency in Competency G looks like to me. To make accurate information accessible to the particular clientele of specific Indigenous peoples, using library classification systems other than the Dewey Decimal System (DDS) and the Library of Congress's (LOC) classification system is imperative. Both the DDC and the LOC do not organize information in accurate or respectful ways in relation to Indigenous peoples (Cherry & Mukunda, 2015). “LCC [Library of Congress] means that local and traditional epistemologies and knowledge systems are being crowded out, and might even be eliminated altogether” (Cherry & Mukunda, 2015, p. 549). “When Indigenous frames of reference are not built into a system of classification, the accessibility of resources for Indigenous library users is reduced” (The University of British Columbia, 2021, Classification systems section). 

          The Brian Deer Classification System (BDCS) is a unique way for libraries to catalog their collections to reflect the knowledge of Indigenous peoples and not of colonizing peoples (Worth, 2019). Brian Deer, a Kahnawá:ke librarian, designed the BDCS in the 1970s. He designed it to be flexible in order to better reflect the knowledge of specific and local Indigenous communities and institutions. The BDCS has been adapted by the X̱wi7x̱wa Library (pronounced whei-wha) at the University of British Columbia. The classification/subject headers they use can be found here (The University of British Columbia, 2021).

 

Section 2 of 4:

The Discussion of My Evidence

 

Evidence A:

          As my “Evidence A”, I am presenting a discussion I wrote about organizing a collection of things. The title of my discussion is “Organizing Things ”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How and Why I Created Evidence A:

          In my “Information 202: Information Retrieval System Design” course, I was tasked with writing about an experience I had with organizing a collection of items. To help provide context for my discussion, I have included the assignment instructions at the top of Evidence A. I have also highlighted them to distinguish between the instructions and my work.

 

The Process of Creating Evidence A:

          When I was deciding what organizational project I wanted to write about for Evidence A, I knew I wanted it to demonstrate best practices for organizing information in a physical environment (as opposed to a virtual environment). I also knew I wanted it to be relevant to my career as a librarian. I therefore decided to analyze my organizational process when I was organizing my own personal book collection after a move. Evidence A also includes my examination and thoughts on Marcia Bate’s article, The Invisible Substrate of Information Science. I found her article to be a helpful lens with which to look through, when deciding how to organize information.

          When creating Evidence A, I decided to include important information about my organizational process. I decided to answer the following questions: 

-Why did I organize this collection? I organized my books so that I would feel more at home, but also so that I could access them easier and find the ones that I wanted quickly.

-What was I trying to accomplish? I wanted the information I was seeking to be highly visible and easy to find. This way, I was not wasting valuable reading time dragging boxes out of the closet and rooting through them, trying to find the book I wanted in an unorganized jumble.

-What decisions did I have to make? I had to decide how to fit approximately 200 books into one, medium-sized, bookshelf/retired kitchen hutch. I also had to decide on what organizational structure worked best for me: by genre, author, color, how much I liked them, or simply by what would fit on the shelf? I finally decided on a modified, genre-based, organizational system. I also had to decide which books to store on shelves, where they were easily visible, and which books to store in drawers, which were out-of-sight. I also had outliers, books that would not fit anywhere due to physical space restraints or genre. I decided to keep a stack of about 30 books on (and near) my bedside table. These would be books I was reading and wanted to read in the near future. Once I had pulled these 30 titles, I had space to reshuffle the rest of the collection to fit in the drawers and shelves. 

-What problems did I encounter? I had very little physical shelf space to work with. Also, the shelves were of varying, non adjustable heights. This meant that some books, regardless of genre, would only fit on certain shelves. I also had to remind myself that there were books in drawers, since I couldn't see them, so that I would not forget they were there.

-Was my "system" successful? For the limited physical space and shelving options I had, the organizational system worked as best as it could. I made the limited resources available to me work to their best ability.

-Did it do what I wanted it to? While not all titles were easily visible, many were more visible and accessible than they had been before I organized them. 

-Was organizing it worth the effort? It was. Before I decided to organize my books, I had not been reading much as trying to find a title amidst a pile of boxes was a daunting task. After applying an organizational strategy to my books, I read more often.

-What would I do differently? I would like to have more bookshelves so that I can take the books out of the drawers and off the shelves where they are laying flat, and have all of my books displayed spine-out on shelves. This would make them easier to view and access.

Why I Chose to Feature Evidence A and How Evidence A Shows Competency:

          I chose to feature my discussion on organizing a collection of items as it demonstrates my ability to assess an organizational need (better access to my books), to use the resources around me to implement an organizational structure (an old kitchen hutch with shelves and drawers, and a nightstand), to evaluate an organizational structure and modify it for better accessibility of information (picking 30 highly used titles to place by my bed and reshuffling the rest of the books to fit in the available space), and to cater an organizational system to a specific user base (organizing by genre and by frequency of use, which were preferences specific to how I wanted to access information). 

          Evidence A shows excellence in Competency G by demonstrating my knowledge of organizational systems (such as genre, popularity, relevance, author based, or subject based). It also demonstrates my ability to choose the best organizational system for the user at hand (genre-based, for myself). Evidence A also shows my ability to modify an organizational system to heighten accessibility (modifying a genre-based system to include frequency of use). 

 

Evidence B:

          As my “Evidence B”, I am presenting a website that I created, “Children's Non-Print Resources from the Library”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How and Why I Created Evidence B:

           For my “Information 263: Materials for Children” course, I was tasked with writing a paper on 25 items that libraries provide to children that are not books. I also needed to organize these items into categories.

The Process of Creating Evidence B:

          When starting on the process of creating Evidence B, I decided that I wanted to demonstrate best practices for organizing information in virtual environments (as opposed to physical environments). To this end, I obtained permission to organize and present my collection of resources in the form of a website instead of a paper. I then had to decide how I was going to organize both my website, and the collection of items. 

          I included all of the required elements of a paper in the website: introduction, a list and discussion of 25 items, and references. I incorporated them into a website using a logical flow of information and sections. I made a clearly visible and easy-to-navigate menu bar at the top of the home page. The menu progresses logically from left to right, from “Home”, to “Introduction”, all the way through “References” at the end. 

          I then decided how to organize my 25 items: games (with subsections distinguishing between online games -2 items- and physical game boards -3 items-), DVDs (5 items), music resources (5 items), subscription resources (5 items), and activity kits (5 items). I made each of these categories its own page on the website. I also built links for each of those categories into the menu bar. 

          I also knew that I wanted to include items in my collection that I felt were meaningful, and supported the values of libraries. In the introduction, I organize and present my thoughts surrounding meaningful items in the website’s collection. This includes information on the benefits of nature on child development and how libraries can support that through activity kits, and on how I included specific DVDs in the collection that promoted inclusivity and acceptance.  

          I decided I wanted to create an actual resource that could be utilized, hence using a website format instead of writing a paper. I decided to gear it towards an audience of children and families who use the library. I knew that I wanted to make the site fun and interactive, so I made the “Games” page mimic an online game, where users “pick their player” to navigate between online games or physical board games. I also used a fun, bright, and complimentary color scheme to draw the viewer in, and added “Fun Facts” boxes to help engage interest and to provide helpful and interesting information.

Why I Chose to Feature Evidence B and How Evidence B Shows Competency:

          I chose to feature Evidence B as it demonstrates my ability to provide information in a way that is organized and designed to provide accessibility to a particular user group. For the assignment, I could have written a paper in Microsoft Word describing 25 items that no one would have had access to except for me and my professor. Instead, I chose to organize my collection of 25 items into a colorful, and easy-to-navigate website. I provided clear and organized headers on my menu bar which would be easily understood by children. I incorporated fun and interactive elements into the site, such as “pick your player” and “fun fact” boxes, to appeal to a younger and digitally savvy user group. The specific 25 items I chose for the collection are all items that are available at most libraries. Creating Evidence B as a usable, publicly accessible, website showcases my commitment to providing organized and applicable information, and my ability to cater organization and design to different user groups. 

 

Section 3 of 4: 

How Creating the Evidence Helped Me Gain Expertise in Competency G

 

How Creating Evidence A Helped Me Gain Competency in the Area of G:

          Writing my discussion on how I organized my own personal collection of books helped me to apply the concepts I was learning about (classification systems, cataloging systems, and how to best make information accessible to a specific user group) to my own organizational preferences. I had organized my books before I took the course. Thinking back on that process and applying the course concepts was a very enlightening experience for me. For instance, when I was deciding how to organize my books, I knew I wanted my “frequent flyers” or highly used books to be the most accessible. I implemented this by putting the 30 most in use books by my bed, where I do most of my reading. I was not recognizing that organizational strategy as catering a cataloging system to a specific user for heightened accessibility of information, but that is what I was doing. Creating Evidence A helped me to recognize Competency G in real life situations.

How Creating Evidence A Changed My Way of Thinking on Competency G:

          Creating Evidence A helped me see the connection between real-world organizational practices and the importance of how information is organized in order to provide accessibility. Once that connection was made, I realized that organizational preferences were an important part of how well-utilized a collection of information would be. This realization is very important to me, as I find that it heavily applies to the ability to provide equitable access to information. Going back to the Brian Deer Classification System, it is important to recognize that it came into existence so that knowledge of and for Indigenous peoples could be better organized and accessed by Indigenous peoples. This was necessary as the way the DDS and LOC organize information on Indigenous peoples is not accurate or easily accessible to Indigenous peoples. Creating Evidence A showed me my own organizational preferences, and how they catered to what made my information more accessible to me. I now have a better understanding of the organizational flexibility needed to provide equitable, accurate, and easily accessible information to different people. 

 

How Creating Evidence B Helped Me Gain Competency in the Area of G:

          Creating my Children's Non-Print Resources from the Library website was an exciting opportunity for me to apply an organizational system ( like my introductory page, individual category pages, and references) to information that was important to me, like inclusive and accepting DVD titles and activity kits that provided access to nature. I was able to gear the entire collection of items, the categorization system, and the site design to a specific audience: children and families who utilize public libraries. Creating Evidence B allowed me to apply Competency G to a resource which I had created and which could actually be used by the intended audience. 

 

How Creating Evidence B Changed My Way of Thinking on Competency G:

          Creating Evidence B helped me feel that Competency G was something I could easily apply to exciting projects. The process of creating the website was a creative outlet for me. I enjoy organizing things, I find it soothing. Being able to create a website that put organizational strategies into place regarding resources I feel are important demonstrated to me the importance of Competency G. I also enjoyed designing the website so that the information was not only accessible and targeted to an audience, but was fun and colorful. This really helped me to feel confident in my ability to implement Competency G.

 

Coursework That Has Prepared Me for Organizing Information:

          In my “Information 244: Online Searching” course, I created a Key Concept Presentation explaining the concept of controlled vocabularies. In my “Information 202: Information Retrieval System Design” course, I created rules based on the metadata and organizational structures of the information in a record. I also created rules to demonstrate that I understood and could apply organized data structures when creating catalog records. In Info 202, I created a database and corresponding search page to demonstrate my ability to organize information using controlled vocabulary systems and metadata schemas.

 

How I Have Changed From the Person I Was Before These Courses, to the Person After, to the Person I Am Now:

          I have always felt soothed by the act of organizing things. Before I took these courses however, I was very intimidated by organization when it was viewed through a technical lens. The technical perspectives and concepts of organization, such as metadata and controlled vocabularies, felt like a language I did not speak. As I worked my way through these courses and assignments, I began to develop a better understanding of what these technical perspectives on organization were trying to show me.  I already used these same concepts in my own life and work, I just thought of them differently. When I chose to organize my book collection so that I would read more, I was “making information more accessible to a specific clientele”. When I chose to organize my collection of 25 non-print resources by the type of medium they were (DVD, music, game, activity kit, subscription service), I was using a controlled vocabulary to design a cataloging system for these classifications. When I made sure the information on my Evidence B website was colorful, appealing, and engaging, I was making this information accessible to a particular audience. I now understand that what I was doing was already approaching organization from a technical lens. I am now better able to apply organizational principles to real world scenarios.

 

What I Have Learned:

          I have learned how to design and apply controlled vocabularies by creating presentations on controlled vocabulary and designing one for Evidence B. I have learned the importance of metadata (one of the smallest and most detailed elements of organization) to the ability to find something in an organizational system (the largest and most important goal) by applying metadata to the records in the database I built in WebData PRo, and by designing the search page that correlated to the metadata in those records I built. I have learned the importance of rules for metadata and data structures, and how the complexity or simplicity of those rules will affect the ability to find information in an organizational system. I learned this through crafting my own rules and applying them in my WebData PRo database. The evidence and coursework I have discussed here have taught me how to appreciate the minutiae of technical organization, and how those smallest of details can determine the largest of results. 

 

Section 4 of 4:

How the Knowledge I Have Gained Will Influence Me in the Future, as an Information Professional

 

What I Bring to the Position, in Terms of Competency G:

          I am able to assess individual circumstances to ascertain best organizational practices in both physical and virtual environments. I am able to work with limited resources to create organizational systems that best serve a need. I am able to create organizational systems that are designed for specific audiences. I take inclusivity, representation, and accuracy of information very seriously and I apply those elements to everything I work on, including how I organize information. I see myself using this knowledge and these skills in the future by organizing collections with inclusive and appropriate categorization systems, such as the BDCS, genre based systems like bookstores use, and systems that are appropriate for the community and audience they are in. I see myself working to ensure that well-organized collections contain accurate, accessible, and important information. I see myself being able to evaluate collections of information for issues of representation, diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance more efficiently because they are organized correctly. 

How My Learning in Competency G Will Contribute to My Professional Competence in the Future:

          I would be an excellent information professional, be it as a librarian, researcher, or any other facet of information science, because I can apply, modify, adapt, and design advanced organizational strategies in real-world situations to make information more accessible to specific users. I learned these organizational principles and how to use them by creating a website for non-print resources at the library (which taught me to cater my organization and presentation to an audience), by analyzing and discussing my own organizational preferences (which taught me how to examine accessibility), and by the detailed assignments I have completed in my “Information 202: Information Retrieval System Design” and “Information 244: Online Searching” courses, which have taught me about the important details involved in efficient organization strategies. My thorough understanding of Competency G, including the importance of customizing organization and presentation for specific situations, makes me an outstanding candidate for this position.

References:

American Library Association. (2019). Core values of librarianship. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/corevalues#:~:text=Among%20these%20are%3A%20access%2C%20confidentiality,%2C%20social%20responsibility%2C%20and%20sustainability.

Brown, C.C., & Bell, S. S. (2018). Librarian’s guide to online searching (5th ed.). Libraries Unlimited.

Cherry, A. & Mukunda, K. (2015). A case study in Indigenous classification: Revisiting and reviving the Brian Deer Scheme. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, (53)5-6, 548-567. DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2015.1008717

Gattullo Marrocolla, E. (2019, October 1). The trouble with Dewey. School Library Journal. https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=The-Trouble-with-Dewey-libraries

Harpring, P. (2010). Introduction to controlled vocabularies: Terminology for Art, Architecture, and Other Cultural Works. Getty Research Institute.

Librarianship Studies & Information Technology. (2020, March 22). Cataloging. https://www.librarianshipstudies.com/2015/05/cataloging.html

The University of British Columbia. (2021, August 18). Indigenous knowledge organization. LibGuides. https://guides.library.ubc.ca/c.php?g=307208&p=2049510#s-lg-box-6258579

Worth, S. (2019, March 22). This library takes an Indigenous approach to categorizing books. Yes! Solutions Journalism. https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2019/03/22/decolonize-western-bias-indigenous-library-books

Zhang, A. B., & Gourley, D. (2008). Creating digital collections. Chandos Publishing.