VALA2020 SC1 Yamaguchi

Librarian and coding: a new job opportunity

VALA2020 SC1
Tuesday 11 February 2020, 2:45 – 3:50

Masami Yamaguchi
  • Griffith University

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View the presentation slides here:


Ongoing technological enhancement is providing information professionals opportunities to engage in continuing professional development to keep up with new demand and challenges. Technology competencies are required in many parts of librarians’ role. For example, emerging technology has transformed the research landscape from 50 years ago. Now researchers in all academic disciplines are working with big and complex data. They require knowledge of working with data, what tools to use, and where to save data; these are all facets of the research data lifecycle with which librarians can assist.

Academic libraries, in particular, are evolving new services around research data to meet their clients’ needs. This means that ideally librarians need to acquire knowledge and skills regarding digital scholarship, including tools, storage methods, high-performing computers (HPC) and some level of coding to clean, analyse and/or visualise data.

This session looks at the example of a learning and teaching focused librarian within Library and Learning Services (LLS), Griffith University, who, being interested to learn Python coding, developed a small Python script as part of their professional development. The script reduced a significant amount of time required for a learning analytics task. It also reduced the risk of introducing human error.

Not all librarians are required to be able to code. Nevertheless, investing time to develop coding skills can have positive returns to the organisation as it has the potential to improve the data quality and efficiency of internal processes. The organisation may not recognise the benefit of librarians’ digital skills – yet.

Coding skills can be a good addition to core library skills, which can be beneficial to the organisation. To encourage librarians to develop coding skills, creating a new job title, such as coding librarian, research software librarian, or research tools librarian, could be a solution as a job title would make clear and easy to recognise the required skill set. Librarians’ roles have been evolving to accommodate technological transformation and clients’ needs. A new job title would contribute to raising the awareness of the importance of these skills, expanding professional development opportunities, and diversifying librarians’ career paths.

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