25/11/2013 § 7 Comments
As programmer and tech journalist Ciara Byrne noted in her op-ed “No–You Don’t Need to Learn To Code”, learning to code is not always fun, easy, or even useful for every career path. Nonetheless, programming can develop several soft skills that translate across a broad range of professions. In addition to increasing your digital literacy, learning to code teaches you to solve problems, to seek out collaborative solutions when you are stuck, and (in my experience) to endure lots of frustration for the sake of future rewards.
The benefits of learning to code are especially tangible for information science students. Programming knowledge equips you to customize content management systems, create sophisticated reports in an integrated library system, develop mobile apps, manage databases, implement open source software, navigate user experience design, customize or create a web presence for your institution, and collaborate more effectively with IT professionals.
You may be thinking, “But Sam, I am not a programmer. It just doesn’t come naturally for me.” Well, join the club. My undergraduate degrees are in history and political science! Although I grew up in a very tech-friendly home, I never had any ambition to be a programmer. After I started working in libraries, however, I found that some kind of coding knowledge is necessary for many of the jobs I want to pursue. It hasn’t always been fun and it has rarely been easy, but I have made it a priority to learn these skills. Over time, I have actually learned to enjoy coding.
Here are some guidelines that have helped me endure the tough times:
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22/11/2013 § 16 Comments
My library school experience has, I’m sad to say, handed me a bunch of lemons. There are the professors who aren’t as inspiring as I would prefer (sorry), the journal articles that look like they weren’t proofread, the classes that are scheduled at times that are inconvenient for everyone. Including the instructor.
And then there’s the fact that one of the classes I need for my specialization is offered only in the spring, and this spring it is offered at a time when I cannot take it for religious reasons (probably NSFW), which is the biggest lemon of all.
Meanwhile, I’m paying a not-insignificant amount for my education, so let’s talk about how to turn these lemons into lemonade. « Read the rest of this entry »
26/08/2013 § 4 Comments
I’m a joiner. There, I said it. Being a part of one organization or another has been as natural as breathing for me since I was a kid. So it was only fitting that I joined the Student Archivists at Maryland (our chapter of the Society of American Archivists) when I arrived at the University of Maryland iSchool. It’s a quick way to meet like-minded people and dive quickly into a field that you’re going to spend a relatively short amount of time studying. I was a little surprised at the low attendance at the meetings though- why should that be? « Read the rest of this entry »
29/05/2013 § 3 Comments
The end of my first year of library school has been a welcome reminder to reflect: to remember that, not so long ago, MARC and FRBR were meaningless acronyms, I had never answered a reference question, and I didn’t even know what half of my course titles meant. I’ve been sorting through notes from classes, panel discussions, and workshops in an attempt to mentally index the year and to check in with myself. In doing so, I have remembered some of the moments in which I felt especially excited about what I was doing and learning—e.g. hand-coding my first website, planning instruction sessions, and talking to librarians about the work they love. Honestly, I had forgotten about quite a few of my favorite moments; losing track of inspiration is quite easy amidst the anxiety and self-doubt that can strike throughout the busyness and unknowns of graduate school. In the face of these worries and doubts, reminding ourselves of what continues to draw us forward on our chosen paths can be incredibly powerful.
Today my library school (and life) ‘hack’ is to keep track of the things that inspire and excite you—things that can then serve as motivation, as a guide when picking classes and developing projects, and even as content for resumes, cover letters, and interviews. I think we learn and work best when we’re excited about what we’re doing. Keeping a finger on the pulse of what poet William Butler Yeats describes as the “rag and bone shop of the heart”—the often disorderly yet foundational deep structure of ourselves—encourages that excitement.
22/05/2013 § 4 Comments
Here at Hack Library School, we are pretty firm believers in the value of attending conferences. We’ve talked about why you should attend conferences, how to hack academic conferences, and presenting at conferences. Now that the academic year has ended for many of us, conferences are a great way to continue our library education during the summer months!
Conferences provide us with opportunities to network with other librarians and information professionals and learn about things that may not be covered in library school classes. As an added bonus, they are usually significantly less expensive for students, so now is a great time to take advantage of them! There are a variety of conferences taking place this summer, ranging from the all-encompassing (ALA Annual) to those that are much more specialized in terms of discipline and geographic location. Here are a few conferences you might want to think about attending this summer: « Read the rest of this entry »