techno-babble as a second language

The other day I went along to a meeting at the New South Wales Parliament library. It was basically an in-person meeting to talk about some issues they were having with Koha. It’s a pretty huge collection they’re dealing with so they have interesting problems. One of them that we thought we’d fixed had been caused by a major backlog of records being re-indexed in the search server.

It’s funny to me to talk technically about re-indexing servers or whatever. It feels a little like I’m making up techno-babble. And in some ways I am. This is definitely one of those areas where you have to just move forward a little bit blindly and hope eventually something will click. I feel like it will.

I’m not a programmer, but by the time I’m done here I’ll be much closer to one. Even though I haven’t started work yet I’m realizing how little technical stuff we do in school. At our ASIS&T meetings the past 8 months we’d bounced around the idea of sponsoring some sort of coding groups for people to learn some of these skills. We’ve been told to go outside of SLAIS to UBC’s CompSci department for courses on this kind of stuff and fair enough. I probably won’t end up doing that, especially if I pick up as much Perl as might be possible here.

The thing that makes me want to learn more coding is seeing the limitations of the software if you don’t have that ability. Prosentient supports a bunch of libraries running Koha, so I’ll be seeing the stress points in the software from a bunch of different perspectives.

Today one museum library wanted to know how to use their own cover images for books that didn’t have covers on Amazon or Google Books for Koha to fetch. And even though that sounds simple, it isn’t something the software supports. It’s going to take a minor tweak of the code to make it work, but if you aren’t a programmer that’s out of your capability to change.

I want to be able to make those changes. To fix things myself instead of relying on outside help. But I also want to be a librarian rather than an IT guy. I want to deal with cataloguing and reference and finding the best information for people (and as little personnel management stuff as possible).

I may have a very hard time finding a job like that.

Really tiny obscure special libraries seem like they might be my best bet. Maybe for organizations that don’t have formal libraries yet. I’d probably make for a pretty great first librarian for an organization to have. Hm. I guess I should start figuring out who needs me now before I’m actually looking for a job.

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