Code4Lib is for you, for me, for everyone

This was originally published in the November 2015 issue of the BCLA Perspectives newsletter. The original article was meant to be a short published piece in order to encourage more attendance and participation in the next Code4LibBC unconference.

Code4Lib is an opportunity for people to talk about library technology and brainstorm solutions to our library technology problems. That means that Code4Lib is for you, for me, and for everyone, because each and every library staff member interacts with some form of library technology every day. Attending Code4LibBC highlights the ethos that no matter who you are, you have something to contribute, because you know what it’s like to interact with technology, you have an opinion, and a perspective. Better yet, you can bring other perspectives and ideas back to your library.

Code4Lib started as a group of people who wanted to get together, share their work, and help each other solve common library technology problems, resulting in the first meeting in 2005 in Chicago. In 2013, Code4LibBC started the same way, holding its first unconference in Vancouver.

The first time I attended a library technology conference and ended up in the “hackfest”, I was worried that I’d have nothing to contribute. I am not a programmer, and while I have a decent knowledge of library technology in general, I ended up in a group focusing on prototyping an augmented reality app, which I knew nothing about. Despite my knowing little about the technology, I knew what it was supposed to do, and that was enough for me to provide a user’s perspective and ask questions to help the programmers prototype something usable and useful.

At the first Code4LibBC, a group of people got together for a breakout session to discuss web accessibility. We had a common issue that we struggled with. Some people asked questions, others had answers, usually, it was a bit of both. While it’s nothing fancy or formal, we put together a list of accessibility resources, which I still refer to on occassion. This is only one example of how we can collaborate and help each other, but there are plenty more: understanding bibliographic environment, using data to make public services decisions, DIY low-cost solutions, testing and playing with new software and systems, and the list goes on.

The Code4LibBC unconference is about bringing people and ideas together, then seeing what happens. This year, the theme is digital libraries and archives. Have ideas about the technology, the metadata, the user perspective, or something else? Consider doing a lightning talk (a 5-10 minute presentation) or submitting an idea for a breakout group, where people can discuss and come up with possible solutions to a problem.

I’m excited that the Code4LibBC unconference is coming up November 26 and 27, and I hope to see you there! Check out the Code4LibBC information page to find out more.

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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