WWCode In the Stacks

In the Stacks.tv & Women Who Code

When I first heard about Women Who Code, my immediate thought was—Librarians need this! Just like the other sciences, most aspects of a librarian’s job have moved online, especially digital librarianship. Developing new technology to help us complete tasks more easily and efficiently is the only way forward. Expanding our technology skills and providing recommendations are a way librarians can continue to be valuable in a changing world. The 22nd Century Librarian is a Digital Librarian, and we need to get ready.

At my grad school (I received my Masters in Library and Information Science in 2012), Information Science and Computer Science share some of the same professors, and MySQL was part of the curriculum. It occurred to few of us, however, to take the more advanced coding classes, which is where Women Who Code comes in.

After I graduated with a more realistic worldview — and the realization that I may never work in a traditional library job — I knew I would likely need to build products that others would want to use, and that could land me more jobs (I currently work as an Information Architect/Content contractor). Not only does Women Who Code offer meetups in everything from Javascript to Python, it’s an opportunity to meet like-minded people, people who realize that library and information science is a lot of databases (MySQL is a database, by the way, and every app you use is attached to one). Even if coders are more inclined to Google something, they get why my team and I at In the Stacks are building a book recommendation application and an accompanying mobile app.

In the Stacks librarian book recommendations is a business that grew out of the video book review independent study I started in grad school. And while we still do videos of book reviews and author interviews, the latest products are book discovery tools. They’re not necessarily based on video, but aggregating and ranking librarian’s book reviews. Our librarian recommendation app has the power to suggest books using big data/AI-based systems and expert curation, providing the user with pleasantly surprising, yet relevant results. By attending the Women Who Code algorithms meetup, I learned which recommender algorithms to play with as we land on our own special formula. In the iOS Build An App Mobile Study Group, I learned XCode by doing tutorials. Now as we prepare to build the mobile version of our app for iPhone, I plan to pair program with one of the talented developers I connected with through the WWC meetup.

A fringe benefit of the Women Who Code meetups is that they’re often held at San Francisco’s hottest tech companies. Besides meeting coders who work at those companies, hearing about job opportunities, new products and eating in their cafeteria, we’re offered support on tech questions we have as we build our products. I feel as though I’ve finally found my people. Instead of trying to adapt to old school ways of doing things, we’re creating a new school of thought.

With Women Who Code, we can make new technology for libraries possible. We get the opportunity to actualize our dreams, while innovating our field at the same time.

Michelle Zaffino is a writer and librarian living in San Francisco, and founder of the digital library In the Stacks.tv. Visit http://www.LibrarianBrain.com to learn more about and support the In the Stacks librarian book recommendation app.

“When we love ourselves, and love what we’re doing, we make the whole world happier. The entire field is energized by the vitality of many individuals joyously being themselves. Though we’re often warned against thinking too much of ourselves, our hearts get stronger when we do.

“When we know we’re good at something, when we express our passions and our joys without apology or fear, when we put crazy colored streaks in our hair just because we feel like it, we’re helping to strengthen our field.”

© Copyright 2014 ~ quote adapted from Dana Gerhardt