DLF 2011 - How to educate oneself to move closer to the middle of the cataloger/coder continuum

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Catalogers learning coding

Clearinghouse of "learn to code" tools. Some actual resources people have successfully used

  • Lynda.com
  • Safari HeadFirst programming basics
  • Dan Chudnov's videos on "scripting for processing"

Even with some basic technical skills, still probably won't know all of the specific technologies in use at a given institution. What are the most important things to be conversant in right now?

  • XSLT
  • regular expressions
  • getting comfortable on the command line
  • basic object oriented programming concepts

Some success stories:

  • Taking classes on algorithms, data structures rather than a particular programming language
  • Learn something new in order to solve a problem you actually have, rather than as a classroom exercise
  • Get in a room full of people that know more than you, in a situation where you HAVE to work with them
  • Force yourself to really think through your requirements
  • Ask someone to explain how they're fixing something for you as they do it
  • Bess Sadler's CODE4LIB talk about how she got public services staff to write unit tests
  • Do testing of interfaces, of data loads

Need to understand basic concepts like:

  • Windows command line being different than the Unix command line

Difficulty is there's a chasm between the first introductory skills and gluing it all together to "be a developer."

Learning a new piece of code is sort of like learning to navigate the red books. Watch a coder do it to see what the process looks like.

Coders learning cataloging

CODE4LIB page on coders understanding cataloging: http://wiki.code4lib.org/index.php/Working_with_MaRC

DON'T start by reading AACR2. DON't write AUTOCAT.

Ask on CODE4LIB - there are some catalogers there. Or the Metadata Librarians listserv: http://metadatalibrarians.monarchos.com/. Or on Twitter with #cataloging hashtag.

LC pamphlet "Understanding MARC Bibliographic" http://www.loc.gov/marc/umb/. And parallel authority pamphlet: http://www.loc.gov/marc/uma/

Software dev teams often don't communicate well even with each other. Can have trouble knowing when to ask for help.

Don't bang your head against something for more than 30 mins. Ask someone, take a walk, etc. Find someone to ask that you can trust.

Set up a mentorship system? Community phone call?

Success stories:

  • write a grant proposal together

Short list of things to understand:

  • multivolume works
  • bibliographic vs. authority works
  • 006/007 in MARC
  • transcribed vs. controlled fields
  • size of book in MARC is the height, not width