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Coming up for air while a chapter full of tables prints on the lil ole DeskJet ...

Library school has been quite an experience for me -- but it has not turned me into a technology librarian. Then again, I'm not sure that anything could. Nevertheless, I like keeping up on technology and getting the 411 directly from those in the know about such things. Besides which, I'm in agreement with Walt Crawford and Cory Doctorow: the most important trend in technology is policy. But to create and evaluate good policy, you have to understand the technology.

And while I still qualify for student rates, I'm considering joining one of two organizations. If I thought I had a career on the technology/systems end, I'd join both ... but since I'm not, that would be a waste of time and resources, and there's already enough on my plate. So, I need to choose, on the basis of what will keep me in the loop and treading water (i.e. not overwhelmed and unable to understand the vast majority of the literature). It would be nice if I could participate lightly enough to gradually bump up my knowledge and skillset.

The two organizations I'm considering are the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST). ACM is probably way over my head, but it does offer all sorts of e-learning modules to members ... that definitely piques my interest. ASIST has a lower barrier to entry -- it's already librarian-friendly -- but it's still pretty alien. I've scanned an issue of JASIST recently; wow, did I feel stupid.

Any suggestions for wading into the technology sea without getting caught in a riptide? (Yes, I apologize for abusing that poor metaphor, and I'll be entering a treatment program for those with analogy-management issues ...)


Well, I think it depends on what technology you're interested in! There's so many different organisations for specific things. So if you can nail down exactly what you want to know/already know and take it from there it probably won't be so overwhelming.

ASIST does some wonderful stuff but yeah, they are way up there in terms of being hard to understand sometimes! Maybe approach it from a different angle. For example, if you are interested in HTML, you could join the HTML Writers Guild, if you want to focus on advocacy, join the EFF, if you're a macfan, join a Mac User Group. I find that Slashdot is a good site to browse because lots of different organisations get mentioned there from time to time.

On a tangent, one thing I've found sad is that my library degree carries no weight when joining peak computer associations, unlike IT people who can almost automatically join library associations (in Australia particularly, YMMV in the US).

There are a lot of organizations for different specialties. That's a big reason why I'm looking at umbrella orgs like ACM and ASIST -- I'm interested in learning more about web archiving and harvesters, but if my fancy is taken by RFID technology, it's just a shift in interest groups/portals, not ferreting out entirely new/unfamiliar resources. I'm a lazy geek dilettante.

And I'm proud to say that I am a member of EFF ...

I have no idea if a library degree will make it harder/more expensive or easier/cheaper to join an IT association. I don't think you're required to have a relevant degree/job title to join, since they don't function as trade(?) associations, like the American Bar Assn. or the American Medical Assn. However, I could be wrong.

As a "semi techie" librarian, I can sympathize with the feeling of being in over your head :)
I attended an ACM conference that I thought would be relevent and useful. It was so far over my head that it was useless for me :(
On the other hand, my experience with ASSIST has been fairly positive! Since it is library friendly, you will find fellow librarians who are using library jargon (thus making it more understandable to us librarians!).

In addition, check out some of the subgroups in ALA and SLA. I'm a member of ALA-LITA which has been wonderful for me and talks to me at my level Actually, it seems to be at a level a step easier, which makes it easier to stay on top of the info field. SLA has some tech subgroups, which may be useful to you. I'm on a Knowledge Management Team, thus that is my focus.

I've not read your blog long enough to know what your library focus is. If your focus is on cataloging, classification, thesauri and such, Networked Knowledge Organization Systems/Services
(NKOS)is also valuable. It discusses networked knowledge systems that deal with this information.

Nice to meet you! :)


I have to admit, what little I did see of LITA at MidWinter, I loved. I've checked out the IT Division of SLA a bit, but it was more social stuff ... I haven't gone to their topical programming. Probably out of fear -- a lot of SLA programming seems geared to the person in the field looking for best practices, not newbies trying to find their find their way.

Thanks for dropping by the blog, Kelly! Perhaps I should see whether ASIST (as a national body) holds courses on various technologies/skillsets. I know that certain of the chapters do while others don't.