Learning LIS Tech as a Novice

As I’m sure our readers know…I’m a rare book person…oh you didn’t know that? You mean me talking about it constantly didn’t give it away? Starting last summer, though, my GA time was cut in half at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. I thankfully got a really awesome GAship at the Scholarly Commons down the hall to make up for it. Why am I telling you this?


A keyboard. CC Flickr Stephen D


Well…if I have an expertise in LIS it is in History of the Book or Rare Books or Manuscript or Archives and it is DEFINITELY not in tech. I didn’t come to Illinois as much of a computer-y person at all. Since I transitioned from a regular ol’ Special Collections type into a more data services and scholarly communication person, I had to pick up a lot of tech skills very very quickly. And here is how I did it, if y’all want to follow along.

[Note: Some of our writers who were much more on the Information Science side of things wrote articles about these kinds of issues. https://hacklibraryschool.com/2015/02/18/things-you-can-do-as-a-library-student-to-prepare-for-a-career-as-a-data-librarian/

While this is a great post from last Spring, it is really geared towards people who want to be data librarians as opposed to regular ol’ public or academic library types who need to brush up on some skills. ]Lynda dot 1. 1. lynda.com http://www.lynda.comurl.png

I can’t say enough about Lynda.com. If you don’t know, Lynda is a website where video tutorials are offered on PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING EVER. And it is truly amazing the things that I have been able to learn about digital videography, photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and many more incredibly difficult and daunting programs. These tutorials are amazing and everyone should watch them. I was lucky and found that the University of Illinois has a pass for students, faculty, and staff to use Lynda unlimited so if your university does that you should totally take advantage of it. If not, there is a monthly fee which is not always easy for students to swing but it is well worth it to learn Photoshop alone.

2. CodeAcademy https://www.codecademy.comimgres.png


Quick! The library website is broken and you’re the only person around who knows a little bit of html and css! What do you do? Well, if you’re quick you can learn all the coding you’ll ever need (HTML, CSS, PYTHON, JavaScript) with one free website. The tutorials are easy to use and quick and unlike Lynda where you spend a lot of time watching videos, with CodeAcademy you build a website with the skills you are learning. You see how everything works as you’re learning. I had no idea what I was doing before I sat down last summer and learned CSS and now I feel much more confident in my abilities to not ruin the library’s tumblr page.

3. O’Reilly Books http://www.oreilly.comml-header-home-blinking.gif

Ok so for the millionth time I’m going to mention that I, like you, love books. #BooksRTheBest This semester I took an incredibly mind blowing class on metadata, which involved a ton of XML and XSLT as well as designing schema. While I knew my little patch of coding to fix website issues, I didn’t have a whole lot of experience in Oxygen. Thankfully, like most things, there’s a book out there for me! O’Reilly books, I’m sure you’ve seen them with their weird black and white animals on the covers, are the best of the best when it comes to tech manuals. Easy to read and understand, the XML and XML Schema O’Reilly books really helped me get a handle on Oxygen as I charted nervous metadata waters. They are available in print (yay) but also as part of Safari Books Online which you should be able to access through your University Library!


Three things to make you feel less like a Luddite. Happy coding!



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