by Rebekah Kati, Head Editor, INALJ North Carolina
A Case for Learning HTML
I remember sitting in a required technology class during my first semester of library school and wondering if I was ever going to use any of the information presented. I was so sure that I was going to be a reference librarian, you see. Why did I need to learn about UNIX? Microsoft Access? HTML? I felt that those skills wouldn’t be relevant to my future career.
Now, I look back at myself as a first semester library school student and laugh. I started my career as a part time reference librarian, but did use many of the skills that I learned in that class – even UNIX! HTML and CSS proved to be especially useful. Although I did not update the library website at the time, I still used content management systems in LibGuides and the library blog. Roy Tennant points out that content management systems do much of the coding work automatically. While this is true, these systems do not always work the way one might expect. Errors occur frequently, but can easily be managed by correcting the source code. It can be helpful to know even a little, just enough to identify the issue and fix it.
Learning HTML and CSS can also help job seekers beef up their resume. Even if you feel, as I once did, that your career will not require HTML and CSS, learning it can demonstrate your flexibility as a candidate. Most library jobs now require some knowledge of technology and website management is a frequently listed required or desired skill. Librarians are now being asked to do more and wear many hats. Many jobs that typically might not require web skills – especially public services positions – now have HTML and CSS listed in the requirements.
This is not to say that every librarian should immediately drop everything and build their own websites. Librarians established in their careers may not see a need. However, librarians on the job market will likely want to expand their technology knowledge. As Dale Askey and Bohyun Kim argue, librarians cannot possibly know every technology skill that a job requires and it would be silly to try to learn everything. Certainly, HTML and CSS are a good place to start – especially if you are interested in a library technology career.