On Fri, Dec 12, 2003 at 05:40:53PM -0800, John Durno wrote:
> What programming-type projects have you undertaken that really had some
> benefit in that context?
I've come to this discussion midway, but that won't prevent me from
jumping in with my two cents...natch!
My first library-related coding project was a library orientation guide
written in really, really bad Basic on a Commodore 64 PET computer
(remember the "GO TO" statement?), stored on cassette tape. This was in
the early 80's, probably about 1982. It was an excuse for me to learn
programming. At the time, I was a library assistant just figuring out
that I wanted to go on and get my library degree (but that was before I
even had a B.A.!).
Other notable projects along the way include the software
infrastructure behind the Librarian's Index to the Internet (lii.org,
now completely redone by a _real_ programmer from the bottom up, thank
god) and KidsClick! (kidsclick.org). One of the projects I prototyped
that should have gotten funded but wasn't was one to enrich our library
catalog with scanned tables of contents and index pages for non-fiction
works. I'm still proud of how I put that system together, the prototype
for which can still be seen at <http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/PEP/>,
along with an original proposal.
I am living proof of what can be done with only enough Perl knowledge
to be dangerous. I think every librarian needs to know enough about
programming and common programming languages and structures to know
when something is easy or difficult. One of the most useful
capabilities I've had in my career is the ability to say to myself,
"Hey, I can see exactly how to do that, and it isn't difficult". That
way, even if you're not the one to do it, you won't stand for anyone
telling you that it can't be done or that it is too hard. You know
enough, in other words, to know what can be done. That is priceless,
even if you never write a line of code.