Skills in Need: Why coding and technical skills can benefit your job hunt

by Alexis Rohlfing, Head Editor, INALJ New Hampshire

Skills in Need: Why coding and technical skills can benefit your job hunt

alexisr1When you’re looking for a library or information professional job, whether you’re new to the field or just changing directions, you’ll find you need something to make you stand out. In the rapidly changing world we live in, knowing your way around technology– specifically software and coding– can make that difference. In a traditional library, it will allow you to assist with troubleshooting or even maintain databases and web pages in house. In an information professional job, having tech know-how can open doors that may not open with just an information background or MLS.

This isn’t to say you need to be able to code Python or C++ or have formal certifications, but walking the line between computer science and library science will afford you more opportunities, and better your chances of landing a position. If you already have a techie bent, this is a perfect way to meld your background into a career. Another plus side is that you can bring this knowledge and these resources to your job so that they can benefit others.

If you’re trying to figure out where to start, there are tons of resources available to you, many of them free. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Code Academy– Code Academy got some buzz last year in the tech community for their Code Year program which incorporates several coding languages, but they also offering coding tracks for Javascript, HTML/CSS, Python, Ruby, and APIs (code that is tried to a specific website or service, most useful for building apps)
  • You can also try your hand at MySQL, which is a relational database and can be useful for building databases or maintaining some open source OPACs
  • MOOCs such as Udemy, Khan Academy, Coursera, and EdX offer courses from different universities that run the gamut of coding and technology. You can take a single course that will give you all the skills you need for web development (helpful for designing your library’s website or maybe even coming up with your own app!) or courses for relational databases and different coding languages. Keep in mind that these skills are easily transferable. For example, if you are working with archival finding aids, you may work with EAD, a coding language that the Library of Congress specifically designed for archival finding aids. EAD is a form of XML, which relates to HTML and CSS. Once you’ve got all the basics, you can always specialize within the field.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.