Librarians as Coders
Jessamyn has a link to a post from Dan Chudnov about more librarian’s needing to be coders which I think is worth reading. As a librarian who is a coder I agree that it is important for more librarians to be coders. Why you ask? One of the biggest reasons in my mind is prototyping things. Many library vendors will not develop something until they see proof of concept and a substantial interest from libraries. The only way to get that sometimes is to build a prototype yourself. The same can be said for local system that you might want to build and don’t have the development resources. Being able to create a prototype for proof of concept purposes can get you the cash to build the real thing. A second reason why I think librarians should be coders is for innovation purposes. It is difficult to innovate if you don’t know what is within the realm of possibility or how things work. Knowing some code can get you a long way. I means this is the sense of small bits of code can improve how a system works tremendously but also in the sense of once you know a little you can learn a little more.
By the same token, my traditional library experience – working the desk, teaching, cataloging has really infused my work on developing library systems. I believe that I am a better developer because of the library experience I bring to the table. I understand the applications of the system I’m working on in a way that a traditional developer would not. This is probably the number one reason why more librarians need to be coders. The library knowledge that you bring to the table when combined with the coding knowledge can make better systems. As Dan points out there is alot of existing code and system out there you can leverage and learn from. Find out who is building similar things and leverage what they’ve already done or better yet collaborate and offer to help them build on it.