A Case for Learning HTML

by Rebekah Kati, Head Editor, INALJ North Carolina

A Case for Learning HTML

HPIM1534I 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.



Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its 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. INALJ has had over 20.5 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians 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 one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.