Hi Ed -
I have a similar job to what you describe but at a public library and
not entry level. It might not be what you are looking for but I suggest
you focus more on the specific non-technical requirements than the
technical ones. Yes, you want to hire someone who has the ability to do
the coding but especially since it's entry level the languages they
already know are irrelevant given they've demonstrated proficiency with
You want someone that has an interest in libraries and information
management since s/he'll be working on a variety of projects in that
area and will likely have to learn a good deal about many different
library systems that can often be the limiting factor in what can be
You mentioned they are joining an IT staff of 4, are any of those people
coders and will they be working closely with this person? If not,
you'll need someone who's quite independent and has demonstrated the
ability to learn new things without much assistance or structure.
If the person will be working with librarians or other people to develop
new projects or refine old ones they should be able to express
themselves clearly at different technical levels and understand what the
librarians are asking of them even if they express it in library jargon
rather than programmer jargon.
I know these things are hard to judge and hard to put in a job
announcement but it's really infinitely more important than whether they
For technical skills the most important is, of course, a good
understanding of databases.
Hope this helps!
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2012 2:32 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [CODE4LIB] Library programmer skills
I would welcome your suggestions as I develop a proposal for a new
full-time programmer line hopefully to be added to my current Library IT
department of four (including myself).
We are an Innovative/Encore/Research Pro/Synergy Library so we do little
programing in terms of discovery. We are however involved in
beta-testing for Sierra which when ready will have a new open DB
architecture and API's. I would like this position to help the Library
leverage that somehow.
Something you should know about our campus ... the university powers
that be have been successful so far at limiting open source platforms on
campus to the single campus web server (RHEL, Apache, PHP) that includes
the Library site! Everywhere else OSS is verboten. This is a struggle
for us at times because much of what is grant-funded in the library
world produces open source tools that we cannot utilize unless hosted
This means we have SharePoint which we find useful for many solutions
but not feasible for heavy hitting external facing web interfaces. So
we outsource: bepress, libguides, contentdm, ares, illiad, wordpress,
Lately during a website migration we had to step up to do some fairly
complex batch text manipulation, that project was followed by another
involving many lines of JAVA code for a program to produce EAD formatted
XML. There were also many database changes and the development of a
delivery platform for that EAD. We have also utilized JQuery to create
a mobile site for the Library and have several legacy database to web
applications that need to be updated.
Add to this the fact that Libraries are at a moment of great opportunity
in terms of reaching new users (data management), content digitization
(archives and special collections), and linked data. Much of this is
relevant to coding so besides seeking someone who can walk on water what
skills would you recommend we seek in an entry-level position at a great
Your help is appreciated.
Head, Library Information Technology