Competency H

Demonstrate proficiency in the use of current information and communication technologies, and other related technologies, as they affect the resources and uses of libraries and other types of information providing entities

One of the most interesting components of librarianship is the unavoidability of adapting to and changing with the culture’s current developments in technology. In common culture, libraries have the reputation of being old fashioned and dowdy but these institutions quickly started using computers and sharing information electronically. Historically, libraries took advantage of and incorporated the new technologies as they became available. From using Dialog when it was a dial-up telephone service to creating virtual environments on Second Life, librarians have been dedicated to connecting their patrons with the current technologies. Therefore, it is critical to be educated on what is currently bleeding on the edge of technology.

In my professional career, I have worked in web development for 13 years for various pubic and private companies. I am knowledgeable and proficient in different programming languages, such as HTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript, Java’s struts and tiles. My coursework has deepened my understanding of the technologies used in libraries and other information organizations. Professionally, I use databases to create personalized websites but in the MLIS program I created a database rather than only pulling information from one already in existence. In another class, our team created a database structure to catalog YouTube Photoshop tutorials. This exercises combined with my work experience allow me to see both sides of the online experience - the front and back end.

My studies in library science help to complete my understanding of the urgent necessity to have computer systems in libraries. Instead of code syntax and functionality, I had the opportunity to learn underlying structure and coding of information organization. As libraries become less about the printed word, the next generation of librarians needs to understand the technology within the systems. Through a general cataloging class and Professor Jennifer Lang’s seminar on metadata, I began to have a better understanding how the ability to find is created in the library or any information repository. This understanding is crucial to the modern librarian since most of our information is moving to a digital format.

Books have not disappeared and are not likely to anytime soon but the metadata about a collection of books will be digital. I need to be qualified to create, maintain and sift through that metadata in order to support my patrons' needs. The preconceived notion I had about librarians not being technical was blown away once I understood the underlying logic and structure of the systems such as MARC, MODS, Dublin Core, and others. These metadata schemas will allow the patrons to find both print and digital assets through the computer.

In Professor Lang's class, I discovered creating metadata in MODS and Dublin Core schemas challenged my ability and understanding of how information is cataloged. What made MODS paradoxically difficult is its inherent flexibility. The flexibility equates possible endless discussion and debate on the permutations while creating a basis for creative uses. A large portion of the time spent on the project centered on discussion and compromise on the structure and design of the keys and values. The possible inclusion of a thesaurus was beyond the scope of this particular project but I helped create one in another team project. In my web development experience, I had the dubious pleasure of watching user interface designers and information architects work for months to come to agreement. Now, I have a better understanding of the research and eventual compromise that goes into such a project.

As a member of the metadata team, I learned how to break down the different tags, create the values for each item, and to decide how to apply the tags. The goal of the project was to create a digital photograph library with vintage images and the format chosen was MODS. It was a collaborative effort with each member taking three or four images to mark up and input the data into a website provided by the professor. Attached in the ePortfolio matrix are examples of the team’s application design paper and PDF files of the final product. I directly worked on the first four images; however, all of the team members collaborated on editing all of the records. The design paper was a team effort with all group members writing and editing the final piece.

In my systems analysis class, I analyzed how Open Source projects are being implemented and used in libraries. After reading and researching for this paper, it became much clearer to me how librarians needed to be something of generalists when it comes to technology, as well as a having a willingness to expand our knowledge. As a librarian, I do not need to be able to code for an Open Source application, but I do need to know where to start looking for and how to evaluate these solutions. Reviewing the literature for this paper helped me realize that the systems librarian needs to be fairly technical in order to evaluate and implement this type of solution. Open Source applications can be appealing due to the low price but with the caveat of needing a technical librarian to do the research and selecting a final implementation.

Modern librarians need to understand the technological mechanism and software behind the digital library, in addition to being able to evaluate digital information's validity. A patron is likely to need to know how to find trusted sources online as well as how to use the technology. Digital information is abundant, but the ability to evaluate its accuracy needs to be nurtured in this country. Patrons of our public library system continue to need guidance on choosing accurate information as well as learning the different software applications. Public libraries have a long history of providing computer services and teaching their patrons how to best fulfill information needs. In order to accomplish this task, the new graduate needs to be able to communicate and teach new technologies effectively.

Not all technically inclined librarians will be employed in an actual library. Information organizational skills are recognized as valued assets in many institutions and private companies. Many trained librarians will work in companies doing what they do best: organizing information using the current hot technologies. The skills learned here in the program will transfer gracefully from building taxonomies and user interfaces for websites to working at any instance of a library. In my own career path, I plan on continuing developing websites for libraries or public companies with an eye on making the structure so to give users better online experiences.

Artifacts

Digital Image Library in MODS

Open Source and Libraries

Digital Library MODS Application Profile