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CODE4LIB  February 2013

CODE4LIB February 2013

Subject:

Re: You *are* a coder. So what am I?

From:

Chris Gray <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 15 Feb 2013 10:26:42 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (50 lines)

Yes.  Exactly.  It's like saying you can't go to the doctor or hire a 
lawyer without a bit of medical or law school.  Doctors and lawyers need 
to be able to explain what they're doing.

Another skill that would be useful is understanding databases, by which 
I do not mean learning SQL.  Too many people's idea of working with data 
is Excel, which provides no structure for data. Type in any data in any 
box.  There is none of the data integrity that a database requires.  
Here my ideal is "Database Design for Mere Mortals" which teaches no SQL 
at all but teaches how to work from data you know and use and arrive at 
a structure that could easily be put into a database.  It's not just 
data, but data structure that needs to be understood.  I've seen plenty 
of evidence that people who build commercial database-backed software 
don't understand database structure.

Chris

On 2/15/2013 9:45 AM, Diane Hillmann wrote:
> Folks:
>
> This 'everybody-should-learn-to-code' theme has gone around the block so
> many times it's amazing that it still has legs. And I still don't buy it
> (this was part of my keynote at C4L two years ago). I'm all for people
> learning to code if they want to and think it will help them. But it isn't
> the only thing library people need to know, and in fact, the other key
> skill needed is far rarer: knowledge of library data.
>
> Not all librarians or catalogers have these skills--knowing how to catalog
> does not necessarily translate into real knowledge of the data itself and
> how it is structured and how it works (and doesn't). It certainly helps to
> have some experience of cataloging, but is not necessarily required. Karen
> Coyle knows library data inside and out and has never been a cataloger. She
> also knows more coding than I ever will, but that combination is rare. More
> useful, I think, is for each side of that skills divide to value the skills
> of other other, and learn to work together. I've never found it necessary
> to take classes in coding of any kind to learn how to work with developers
> (which is just as well since there were few if any opportunities for me to
> do so). Knowing the data as well as I do gives me a very good sense of what
> is possible when working with a developer, and the good ones know how
> important my skills are.
>
> Jason Griffey spoke in this thread about 'owning your abilities'--and I
> think that's what I'm trying to assert here. If I were advising a new-ish
> librarian (and I do that regularly) I would suggest that they learn more
> about RDF and OWL, about vocabulary development in a variety of contexts.
> That's where I see the gaps, not with a dearth of librarian coders.
>
> Diane
>
>

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