I talked in a previous post a little bit about my experience at code4lib in reference to a general lack of super techy women in librarianship. I got a comment and linked to in reference to how to make code4lib better and would like to address that as a post for several reasons.
First, I want the code4lib folks to know that despite the gender imbalance at the conference, I’ve never been to a more thought provoking, challenging and exciting conference in my life. I also LOVED the format of the conference (lightening talks rock). The other people at the conference were working on very interesting things that sparked my interest in a number of topics. I haven’t been to a library conference that talks about tech topics on this level and in my opinion code4lib can fill a niche that isn’t being filled by any other conference.
That being said here are a few thoughts on how to improve the conference and also potetially attract more women to participate.
- Putting information about the conference out on several different places is a great idea. I’d reccomend WEB4LIB and the LITA blog.
- Also having women speakers is also a good thing.
- Another thing I’d suggest is having something like the Open Source InstallfestÂ that’s a preconference at LITA Forum this year. An activity like this would potentially attract people who are trying to be more techy.
- Also many of the technology-oriented women in libraries I know are involved in web design. Get some techier web design related issues on the program. Setting up an open souce web server isn’t easy the first time and CSS (especially for different media) can be a bear as well. How about something on the technical side of Ajax? The web folks won’t show up if they can’t see something they recognize as being useful to them.
- Remember that even though a topic may not seem “techy” enough for code4lib folks but there isn’t (in my opinion) another good place to talk about these issues Speaking at Internet Librarian and Computers in Libraries has taught me that a significant portion of the audience glazes over if I talk at that level of technical detail.
- Finally, if you want to have more people in libraries involved in coding you have to educate them. We don’t all have a computer science degree or want to get one. We do want to learn more technical stuff but we need mentoring and hand holding. Learning techier stuff on your own is frustrating and code4lib can provide a support network if it doesn’t make people feel like their question isn’t technical enough.