On Feb 23, 2006, at 9:09 AM, Ross Singer wrote:
> I think a more important question, however, is "What is it about
> Code4Lib that attracts you/makes you desire a published output of it?"

I believe that Code4Lib serves an otherwise under-served audience:
The growing numbers of librarians who are also sys-admins /
programmers / general geeks. I rarely find anything in the library
journals that applies to what I do. I try to keep up with the open
source press as well, but almost never do I see anything there that
directly addresses libraries. My main source of information directly
relevant to my job is reading the blogs of code4lib members.
Unfortunately, when I need to make a budget request or ask my library
to think about trying something new "this guy's blog said it was
cool" doesn't carry as much weight as I might wish.

Librarians are increasingly being asked to be hackers. "We don't have
the budget to call in a consultant... see if you can get it working
anyway." Or ... "People are asking for RSS feeds from our OPAC, but
the upgrade that provides that won't be out for a year / doesn't work
with our system / costs too much... can you get it working anyway?"
Or, best of all... "Here' s a project that could easily consume a
full-time software engineering design team. But we really need it!
Can you give it a shot?"

This is not a complaint. I love my job, and I love what I do. But I,
and the people I work with, rely almost entirely on informal
information networks at this point: book recommendations, blog
postings, the occasional conference. I can't help but think that I'm
missing a lot, that many people are missing even more, and that we
need some sort of systematized information distribution that
addresses all the things that have been raised in this forum, as well

1. Is it worth it to pick up a new programming language like Ruby /
flavor of the month?
2. How do I trick my OPAC into doing cool stuff?
3. How do I hire a library geek?
4. How do I mentor non-geeks into becoming geeks?
5. How can I pick up a crash course in software engineering, for
those times when I need to design an application from scratch? Are
there some design tools that might help this process?

I can come up with many other questions, but you get the idea. I
think blogs are fantastic, and I love #code4lib even though I rarely
participate anymore, but I think we have more than enough material,
and more than enough audience, to justify a journal. More than that,
I think the emerging field of hacker librarianship needs such a
journal if it is going to grow.


Elizabeth (Bess) Sadler
Metadata Specialist for User Projects

Digital Research and Instructional Services (DRIS)
Box 400129
Alderman Library
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904

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