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Rereading NextGen Survival Guide

May - 16 - 2006
Nicole C. Engard

Yep, I’m almost finished with my second read through of this book (The NextGen Librarian’s Survival Guide). I have terrible reading comprehension skills, so I like to reread books a couple of times.

Anyway, the first time I read through the book and the second time I read through with a pencil and highlighter – yep I’ve defiled my book by writing all over it – but that’s good because I have notes I want to share with you all.

I already talked about the need for continuing education requirements for librarians – but what about requiring computer classes? I attended the open house for Drexel’s MLS program and the first session I attended talked about the classes we were required to take as well as the possible electives. The professor kept repeating that while programming classes were available they weren’t required – I’d have rather heard her say – they might come in handy if you’re inclined to learn more about computer programming.

On page 160 of the book there is a great line:

…a few over-40 survey respondents point out that they have been using computers for years, and that, in some cases, the fact that they learned to use technology when it was less “user-friendly” gives them a deeper ability to go under the hood and to understand how and why things work as they do.

I agree 100% and this is why I think it should be required to take some type of computer programming or science class to get your MLS – computers and databases are central to our work today – wouldn’t it be easier to search a database if you understood how it was set up? I think that a level of understanding of database programming is invaluable in a librarian working in today’s library.

Further down the page in a quote by a survey respondent:

…some of the people putting information technology to its best uses are older librarians who know libraries.

Yes! Which is why continuing education – in more than just library science – is a must for all librarians. A librarian who has been in the field for 15-30 years and knows how to set up a database and how to search it must be a huge commodity – I would think.

Lastly, from the same page:

Regardless of age or year of graduation, we all have the same need for ongoing professional development and current awareness.

4 Responses so far.

  1. Tom Ipri says:

    You couldn’t be more right. I went to Drexel and got the “programming classes aren’t required” speech as well. At the time, I had no idea I’d find myself so involved in Web development, but I took a couple of classes in C and although I have never needed to program in C, knowing a programming language has been incredibly helpful in using JavaScript and PHP.

  2. Nicole says:

    I am so sorry! 2 other people commented on this thread and I thought I was approving them – but they got deleted – if you’re reading this and you commented today – please feel free to post again – I will not delete your posts – especially not since it looked like you were both agreeing with me!!

  3. Cheryl says:

    My school requires a basic computer class, which includes some web page creation, history of the internet, and history of computer development, and using ftp and basic Unix commands on a student server (the ftp is now disabled, they use a web file upload interface now). The advanced version of that class requires you to use basic DOS batch files and a PHP script in a web page.

    Most students don’t take that advanced class, and only the serious techno types go for the even more advanced stuff. I took the first two and now it’s up to me to learn programming on my own. I thought I’d start with Java. Any advice?

  4. Nicole says:

    I’d recommend going with some sort of database programming – I think this really helps you understand how a lot of the databases you’ll have to use in the library work. I’d say try MySQL – since you already have the PHP (if I understand what you’re saying). If you really want to get into programming, AJAX seems to be on the rise – it’s something I’d like to learn eventually.


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