I was recently at a meet up in Boston (thanks @whitni!) and someone asked me what I want to be when I grow up. I answered “Christina Harlow

(this true story is also recounted in this tweet:

But the real truth is actually more complicated than that, I mean it was a lib-tech thing — so I went with a brilliant lib-tech person.


Time is so dang short, and we can only portion it out so far before we run out of it entirely. I struggle a lot with figuring out where to focus my limited amount. There are two big pieces of ‘librarianship’ that call to me, each of which gets a piece of my attention, but neither of which has it fully:

Being a ‘Cataloger

Being a ‘Metadata‘ person

These are certainly related, and perhaps my terms are poorly chosen so I’ll explain.

I want to be a whiz cataloger. I want to be a person who knows RDA back to front, can quote chapter and verse to defend my points, and roll out ‘well while that’s allowed under, the LC-PCC-PS says, ‘something something” I want to be so familiar with the SHM, and the CSM that I never make a rookie mistake again. I want to be deep into NACO/SACO work and instinctively know if a corporate body should be entered directly, and always create great proposals. I want to have the DCMZ1 under my belt. I want to have read all those cat & class books and written up great reviews of and analyses of them. I want to be able to agitate for change while better understanding the systems themselves that I’m agitating.

It means understanding the ongoing discussions (and issues) with the FRBR-LRM, and participating in same.

I want to know how to catalog things well outside my daily scope. I want to understand map cataloging, and music cataloging and cultural objects.


The latter is different. Its a desire to know more about how people are using data. It’s triple stores and SPARQL, Hydra and Fedora and Islandora, turtle, JSON, RDF, and n-triples. I don’t know what half of those even are (or which ones are capitalized…), but I fear that the farther behind I get on how to be a data-person the less employable I’ll be. I recently took a meeting with folks from Zepheira and Atlas and felt utterly out of the loop with what they’re proposing let alone how they’re implementing it. And that leads me to the second piece. Code codey, code code code.

When you have a cool use for data, toss it up on the web! Learn HTML and CSS and Python and Ruby (occasionally this thing is on rails) and php and SQL and javascript and Java (which isn’t the same! apparently!). What’s a jekyll and why does it, what’s the word: gem?


This isn’t a pity-party-post. I’m mostly pretty happy with my chugging along, learning things as I go — and for the most part my chugging is on the former side. But it’s not a true divide that exists, or has to exist. Lots of people do both things, and understand both things.

I also understand that neither of these are true achievable goals, everybody doesn’t know something, no one knows everything etc. etc. I need to find my balance of do-able, and satisfying. Accept the things I do not know, learn what I can in the time I have, and still leave time for doing non-library things.

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