I think Tom makes some excellent points. In my experience, librarians serve
best in the role of mediators, or as I like to think of it, "translators"
between various knowledge communities. They must translate the results of
database search results to lay users. They must translate the IT needs of
the library to administrators. Increasingly they are being called on to
translate the needs of users and staff to systems analysts and programmers.
As such, having some programming experince is helpful if it aids the
librarian in their translation role. Given that the current method of
linking information systems is object-oriented programming, I think it would
be very useful to include the Unified Modeling Language (UML) is a required
class on IT system in library school. This would provide students with the
requisite concepts to become the translators they will need to become in
their careers.

I congratulate Eric on starting off the discussion on this list with such a
useful and relevant topic. May this list always stay so focused!

Michael Matis
Electronic Resources Librarian
Dewey Graduate Library
University at Albany, SUNY
Albany, NY
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-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Hedington [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 2:50 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Computer programming

     Somewhere in teaching undergrad CS courses, I used to make a
distinction (not original with me, of course, but the attribution is lost
in the mists of time) between data, information, and knowledge;  to wit,
(1) data is a collection of raw facts
(2) information is an organized collection of data in context
(3) knowledge is the placement of information within an overlying
conceptual schema

I think that the reason librarians have not been computer programmers to
the extent that one might expect might be largely that the function of a
librarian has been largely as a mediator between (2) and (3) above - the
user-oriented end of the information stream.*
The traditional function of the programmer has been the mediation between
(1) and (2) above - the lower-level organization of data into information.

Given the explosive growth of information, it's perhaps unrealistic to
expect many people to have a 'Renaissance man' command of the entire
process, but it certainly behooves us all to have some degree of competence
(or at least understanding) of the production and dissemination of the
information stream.

   - Tom H.

At 12:05 PM 12/10/03 -0500, Eric Morgan wrote:
>To what degree do y'all think computer programming should be skill aspects
>of librarianship?
>Since the charter of this mailing lists states it purpose as " provide
>a forum for discussion of computer programming in the area of libraries and
>information science...", and since the code4lib mailing list now includes
>about seventy-five (75) subscribers, I thought I try to get things started.
>Computers are great tools for storing vast amounts of data/information.
>Combined with a network, computers are also great tools for
>sharing/communicating this information with other computers, and therefore
>Librarianship is (partially) about collecting, organizing, archiving,
>disseminating, and sometimes evaluating data/information/knowledge. These
>processes seem very similar to the sorts of processes computers can
>Why is it then that more librarians do not know how to create computer
>Eric Lease Morgan
>Head, Digital Access and Information Architecture Department
>University Libraries of Notre Dame
>(574) 631-8604

* "Computer scientists have the best skills for modeling content for
inclusion in a database.  However, unlike librarians or usability
engineers, computer scientists aren't necessarily trained in user-centered
approaches to designing information systems." - Rosenfeld & Morville,
Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, O'Reilly, 1998.
Tom Hedington               LAN/Systems Admin.
Libraries & Media Services, Kent State University
"A library serves no purpose unless someone is using it."
  -- Mr. Atoz of Sarpeidon {orig. Star Trek: 'All Our Yesterdays'}