15 September 2005

Jessamyn West on Systems Librarians

An Interview with Jessamyn West [via Bookslut]:

Librarianship is a tech-heavy profession. Do you think that librarians should be required to study programming and web design along side Dewey and story-telling?

No. However, I think libraries need to be savvy in their hiring practices to make sure they have a healthy mix of old school and new school librarians. The Accidental Systems Librarian phenomenon [so aptly written about by Rachel Singer Gordon] is a real travesty. People with little to no training are becoming systems librarians because they formerly were in circulation and now need to run the OPAC. Everyone suffers. The library computer systems become a cipher. Librarians look like idiots because they don't understand what is essentially a small cryptic tech fiefdom. It's avoidable, but it requires more money for good tech staff, prioritization of tech issues right up there with book repair and replacement issues, and no staffers should be able to beg off of computers entirely. I don't know how to program [though I'm good with HTML] and I don't know Dewey [though I can fake it] there's room for everyone but while we KNOW why books are important, I think we're still as a profession, muddling through why tech is important. ALA website, need I say more?"


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