I attended my first Code4Lib last winter, in 2013. Through invitation or eavesdropping, I found out about this two day unconference and paid my $20 to attend. It was a wonderful and challenging couple of days, during which time I listened to a lot of very smart cataloguers talk about linked open data and finally learned how to use github to share taco recipes. Folks were welcoming, and even though I really didn’t understand a lot of the more technical stuff it was inspiring and well worth my time.
Despite being neither a prolific coder (my skills top out at html/css) nor a professional technologist of any sort, I’m interested in the endless places where technology and libraries overlap. Making better, more useable tools and services necessitates understanding what happens behind the technology we interface with. Helping users navigate library technologies means that we need a better understanding of it ourselves.
This is to say, I’m interested but I’m not the savviest, and there is nothing in my job title that makes me more suited than most to a 2-day library technology conference. But was it relevant? Absolutely.
I recently read a blog post by Andromeda Yelton where this statement stopped me in my tracks: “We do not have the technical skills to verify whether our products are in line with the values we espouse” (in reference to Adobe Digital Editions). We are expected to understand such a range of services— from critically evaluating products for both usability and by ethical standards, to teaching digital literacy skills on the front lines, and building better repositories and products for our own libraries and institutions. How is a wider understanding anything but valuable? Two days of interactive learning and sharing is bound to be the highlight of November.
This fall’s Code4Lib will feature amazing topics that range from practical hands-on to ethical discourse. And in unconference spirit, you are invited to join whichever discussions or workshops you like. In fact, please pitch a session! The shape of the days remains open.
So what about being a newbie? If you’re feeling like you’re intrigued but not convinced it’s for you: please know it is for you. The main Code4Lib wiki has a great section on How to Hack Code4Lib that includes tips like:
- Share your passion
- Be ready to learn new stuff
- Don’t be intimidated by what looks like the “in crowd” (there is no in crowd), and
- Expect 80% of the value of the conference to come from things other than the presentations
Tickets are selling out faster than you might expect. Pay your $20 and register for this amazing event. Bring your laptop and an open mind and I hope to see you there.
And as much as I want to see you November 27 & 28 at SFU Harbour Centre for the second annual Code4Lib BC, if you can’t make it out (or if you’re extra excited and just want more!) check out the 2015 Code4Lib Conference happening Feb 2015 in Portland, Oregon.