I’ve started learning some computer programming. After speaking with a friend well-versed in programming languages, I settled on Ruby. I had considered C or C++ because I thought those would be the most applicable. I spent about 3 hours beginning to learn C++, but ultimately abandoned that; and after about 15 minutes looking at Ruby, I knew that was the right decision (for me).
Ultimately, this seemed like a decision between the past (C++) and the future (Ruby). Ruby is much more flexible and easier to learn. For beginners, you don’t need a compiler to run Ruby, which I couldn’t get to work anyway, and Apple wanted to charge me $4.99 for their compiler.
As a librarian, I’m not entirely sure that I need to learn a programming language. A fellow SLIS student blogged this question not too long ago and I”m not sure I have the answer. Most of the comments tend to say that no, we don’t need to learn how to program. One goes on to point out that we would not like it if programmers dabble in library science, so we should not dabble in programming. But I’ve got news for everyone: IT professionals are holding more powerful positions in the library world, and they are making decisions regarding library policy. The choice that librarians need to make is this: either IT nerds can become library nerds or library nerds can become IT nerds. Otherwise, we’ll end up being eliminated from our own field because we don’t understand what is happening.
So, we librarians need to learn how to program? I don’t know. But it’s a skill that I can put on any resume and eventually I’ll be able to teach my daughter. And I doubt I’ll be turned down for a job because I know it.