This 'everybody-should-learn-to-code' theme has gone around the block so
many times it's amazing that it still has legs. And I still don't buy it
(this was part of my keynote at C4L two years ago). I'm all for people
learning to code if they want to and think it will help them. But it isn't
the only thing library people need to know, and in fact, the other key
skill needed is far rarer: knowledge of library data.

Not all librarians or catalogers have these skills--knowing how to catalog
does not necessarily translate into real knowledge of the data itself and
how it is structured and how it works (and doesn't). It certainly helps to
have some experience of cataloging, but is not necessarily required. Karen
Coyle knows library data inside and out and has never been a cataloger. She
also knows more coding than I ever will, but that combination is rare. More
useful, I think, is for each side of that skills divide to value the skills
of other other, and learn to work together. I've never found it necessary
to take classes in coding of any kind to learn how to work with developers
(which is just as well since there were few if any opportunities for me to
do so). Knowing the data as well as I do gives me a very good sense of what
is possible when working with a developer, and the good ones know how
important my skills are.

Jason Griffey spoke in this thread about 'owning your abilities'--and I
think that's what I'm trying to assert here. If I were advising a new-ish
librarian (and I do that regularly) I would suggest that they learn more
about RDF and OWL, about vocabulary development in a variety of contexts.
That's where I see the gaps, not with a dearth of librarian coders.


On Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 9:17 AM, Andromeda Yelton <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 8:59 AM, Joe Hourcle
> <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> > Last year, we targeted the beginner's track as a sort of 'Perl
> > as a second language', assuming that you already knew the basic
> > concepts of programming (what's a variable, an array, a function,
> > etc.)
> >
> > Would it be worth us aiming for an even lower level of expertise?
> Yes.  Check out Boston Python Workshop and Railsbridge, which both assume
> no prior expertise (e.g. you've never seen a command line), and which
> regularly draw dozens of attendees. --ay