Posting to alcts-eforum
On 12/01/2012 18:56, Rodriguez, Sandy wrote:
<snip>YES! Programming is a skillset that I see more and more catalogers acquiring as they transition out of working in the traditional library catalog. We see this evidence with the ever-growing community of Code4Lib, and in the most recent post of the popular Cataloging Futures blog, Christina Schwartz announced a new direction for her blog–a focus on using XQuery.
I have found this entire discussion most enlightening. Thanks to the moderators and all the participants for doing such a great job!
On this topic, I don’t know if catalogers need to learn to program, although they do need to become much more tech-savvy. What is critical is to know the capabilities of new systems, and definitely not stay limited to knowing only what your own ILMS can do, since this can be highly limiting in many ways. So, you need to know, e.g. that once a file is in XML (including a MARC record), that you can then transform that file into anything you want. Anything should be taken literally here. Once you begin to realize and consider the possibilities around “anything”, it can be liberating to your mind and the ideas can begin to flow.
Being able to actually program what you envision is rather irrelevant, in my opinion, since that expertise can always be outsourced to many people out there, including–yes–volunteers who may be more than willing to participate in a worthwhile project in exchange for nothing else but to share in the glory.
It is also important to understand that there are an outrageous number of software programs out there with all kinds of capabilities (including among them many open source software programs that can be downloaded for free) that can be used in conjunction with your own ILMS, so that you can, for instance, export your records and use them in a Drupal system where the sky is quite literally the limit. As another idea, I believe that collaboration among professionals is only in its infancy in the internet, and more importantly, within the library community–especially among catalogers–true collaboration has yet to be born. The possibilities in cataloger/cataloging/metadata collaboration are endless.
So much of what is needed today, in my opinion, are enlightened and informed innovative ideas that can be realized by technicians, while the catalogers should be closely involved. But actual programming skills are much less important, except as a way to “widen your horizons” and perhaps to give you additional ideas.