A great example of introductory programming knowledge for those who are just starting out. If you’re worried about figuring out just where to break into the programming world, definitely check out this article for some great tips.
Originally posted on Hack Library School:
Editor’s note: This is part 1 of a guest post by Bryan J. Brown. Part 2 will be posted on July 30.
If you’ve been paying attention to the librarian blog scene at all, you’re probably familiar with the infamous “Should librarians learn to code?” debate. Maybe “debate” isn’t the best way to describe it; it’s more like a dead horse that bloggers give a few extra whacks to every couple of months. Well, now it’s my turn. It’s 2013, y’all. Of course you should learn to code. In case you haven’t noticed, pretty much every aspect of librarianship has been completely revolutionized by the web and that’s not a trend that will lose steam anytime soon. The web isn’t the future anymore, it’s already the present. The role of the digital librarian is to leverage all available technology to enhance access to information worldwide, and I don’t care whether you work in reference, collection development, or tech services, we are all digital librarians now simply by virtue of being librarians in a digital age. If you choose not learn to code, you are choosing to limit your competency with technology, and that’s not something anyone should choose to do (especially if you are a grad student looking for a job). Choose to play an active role in the exciting world of digital librarianship. Choose to be unlimited. Choose to code.
I can certainly understand why some people wouldn’t want to learn to code, it looks pretty scary from the outside. Programming is one of the most intimidating subjects around, but the thing you have to realize about it is that it’s only as difficult as you want it to be. Let’s compare it with learning to fix your car. That’s a scary prospect because cars are really complex, but no mechanic ever started out by rebuilding a carburetor. They probably learned to deal with the easier problems first, like changing the oil or replacing a dead spark plug. These problems don’t require much mechanical skill or knowledge, yet they end up being the most common issues that auto owners have to deal with. For some people, that’s all they are interested in learning, and that’s totally fine. At least they are now that much more knowledgeable and capable than the person who decided that working on cars AT ALL was too scary and avoided the subject altogether. Some knowledge is always better than none. Similarly, nobody is saying you to become an expert programmer, but everyone should be able to fix simple errors on a web page, and these are the most common coding problems of all. The more you know about coding, the more opportunities open up for you. Every new thing you learn is another thing that you don’t have to rely on someone else to do for you, and the ability to do things yourself is truly powerful (and truly impressive to folks who can’t do it). With this in mind, realize that how much programming you learn is entirely up to you, but it is always in your best interest to learn all that you can.