The ability to write code that manipulates library data certainly is
necessary and in demand in some quarters.  In theory, one should be able to
outsource programming to contract techies.  In practice, the nature of the
tasks to be done, the speed with which they need to be done, and the lack of
funds tend to preclude this avenue in many institutions.

Whether "programming" should be regarded as a baseline skill that any library
practitioner should possess is another question.  Clearly, baseline skills
include the ability to read, sometimes in multiple languages; to apply one's
general and library-specific knowledge systematically and logically to a wide
variety of tasks.

System administrators, library technology coordinators and similar positions
have sprung up in the last decade or two to define, organize and deliver
services based on specialized skills related to computers and computer
networks.  The ability to create code to manipulate data and facilitate
library services should be a necessary *specialized* skill expected of
someone occupying such positions.  The days of simply managing the
interaction with a one or two major vendors are being replaced by an era of
multiple, diffuse and diverse systems.  An institution is best served by
someone capable of writing the links to bring together the products and
inputs of these systems if necessary.

It seems to me that programming skills are most clearly a prerequisite in
specialized positions.  While the mental exercise of learning how to do this
stuff can help anyone better understand systems and networks, I don't see
extensive capability as part of the baseline skills of all librarians...

Karl Beiser
Maine State Library

On 10 Dec 2003 at 12:05, Eric Lease 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
> people.
> 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
> facilitate.
> Why is it then that more librarians do not know how to create computer
> software?
> --
> Eric Lease Morgan
> Head, Digital Access and Information Architecture Department
> University Libraries of Notre Dame
> (574) 631-8604

Karl Beiser, Library Systems Coordinator
Maine State Library
POB 2145
Bangor, ME 04402
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tel:207-581-1656; fax: 207-581-1653; pager: 207-750-0330