I think my tweet yesterday may have been partially responsible for raising this question in Mark's mind. I wrote: "Debating registering for c4l since I'll be getting -- at most -- 50% reimbursement for costs &, well, I'm not a coder. Thoughts?" When I wrote this, I was using "coder" in the sense that Jonathan used it: "A coder is someone who writes code, naturally. :)" and also in the sense that Henry mentioned: sysadmin types who do a minimal amount of literal coding but self-identify as technologists.
I profess to be neither, yet many of the topics on this year's lineup are directly relevant to my work. My professional identity is, first, as an archivist. This belies a lot of tech-heavy activities that I'm involved with, however: management of born-digital materials, digital preservation, designing/building a digital repository, metadata management, interface design, process improvement and probably a few other things that just don't happen to be what I'm thinking about at this particular moment.
So although I'm not a "coder" in the sense that I defined above, it's essential for my work that I understand a lot about the technical work of libraries and that I can communicate and collaborate with the true "coders". As my tweet hinted at, this puts me in an odd place in terms of library financial support for attendance at technology-focused conferences. While the "coders" I work with (hi guys!) get fully funded to attend code4lib and similar conferences, I don't.
If this were "training" in the sense of a seminar or a formal class on the exact same topics, I would be eligible for full funding, but since it's a "conference," it's funded at a significantly lower level. I'll gladly take suggestions anyone has for arguments about why attendance at these types of events is critical to successfully doing my work in a way that, say, attending ALA isn't -- and why, therefore, they should be supported at a higher funding rate than typical "library" conferences. Any non-coders successfully made this argument before?
Christie S. Peterson
Records Management Archivist
Johns Hopkins University
The Sheridan Libraries
4300 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
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