Disclaimer that my thoughts are largely based on working with outside consultants at FPOW (public library system)...

- specific points of confusion sometimes arose around library-specific terminology that overlaps with technical terminology, especially if the developer is going to be working directly with library staff outside the technical setting. The two big ones that come immediately to mind for me are “proxy server” and “database”, which can have very different meanings as often used by librarians vs. what they mean to someone who’s familiar with them from other technical contexts. Be careful to make this distinction clear when discussing these things.

- how to best transfer specific knowledge of library technology and how to work with it is going to depend a lot on how experienced the developer is and in what areas. A strong developer is hopefully going to be familiar with learning new standards, technologies and domain knowledge around a workplace as necessary to do their work, as this is a common thing developers have to do in other contexts.

- I would recommend not overwhelming them from the start with the sense that they need to learn all this library-specific technology to perform - rather, think about what they’re actually going to be working on and need to know for that. I think even tech people who’ve been working in libraries a long time aren’t familiar with everything - rather, they’ve picked up what they need to do to get work done over time.

- if you can, put them in an onboarding / mentorship relationship with a more experienced developer who they can ask questions of, pair program with, etc. In my experience this is often the most effective way of onboarding a new developer to a complex environment.


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On Feb 26, 2016, at 3:42 PM, Jenn Riley <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:

Dear Code4Libbers,

We have a new developer starting soon that’s coming from industry with no experience in libraries. We're interested in hearing about any strategies or training methods you’ve found successful in introducing developers from other areas to the quirkiness of library tech – things like MARC, proxy servers, Z39.50, catalogue knowledgebases, e-resources access, etc. Do you have any successes or advice to share?

For those of you in academic libraries, we also are interested in strategies for getting someone new oriented to the academic environment.

Thanks so much!


Jenn Riley
Associate Dean, Digital Initiatives | Vice Doyenne, Initiatives numériques

McGill University Library | Bibliothèque Université McGill
3459 McTavish Street | 3459, rue McTavish
Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 0C9 | Montréal (QC) Canada  H3A 0C9

(514) 398-3642
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