Coding and other core technical skills for librarians? #cilipfuture

Ed Chamberlain’s detailed explanation as to why he has opted out of CILIP membership raises some vital points about both our profession and  professional association.  One point that particularly resonated with me was the lack of recognition of and training opportunities around core skills that are becoming increasingly technical. Yes, more and more librarians are finding coding to be part of their work. And this is not just limited to a bit of  HTML to update the library website. It can (and often does) include dealing with datasets, mashups, SQL, XML and systems administration. This is just a few and I’d be interested to hear what other people see as core technical skills for librarians.



  1. I use XHTML and CSS regularly, some PHP and MySQL, and I am learning javascript outside of work. In addition PhotoShop and video editing have been worthwhile.

    Developing these skills makes me feel more secure in my job – while the paper library shrinks to nothing, I can move into the growing web development workstream. My skills in analysing and organising information are still relevant there.

    1. Hi Helen, Thanks for your input. I managed to miss PHP from my original list (but have added it now). Was the PHP And MySQL self-taught or did you use more formal training?

      1. Hi Kate,

        PHP an MySql is self-taught and at more of an editing and adjusting level than creating anything from scratch. I was given responsibilities at work for a Mediawiki site and some WordPress projects. After a short introduction by a colleague I have mostly used online documentation and forums to piece it together (slightly trial and error). I am now consolidating that with some extra reading in my own time to understand what I’m really doing with it!

  2. Thanks for the promo. I’ve had some very interesting reactions to the post so far. Attending Mashed Libraries in Liverpool recently, I got the feeling I am not alone in this outlook. Part of the fun of events like that is that it is deliberately informal, but a more formal recognition of this skillset as being useful to the profession would be welcome.

    Helen’s point about the core skill of analysing and organising information still being useful is insightful, its a good way to prove we all have something to add, whilst being ‘future-proofed’ somewhat.

    To put it another way, about 15 years ago, most technical drawing moved from paper to CAD. Some adapted to the new skillset, taking their core talents with them, some did not. Other than special collections and some archiving, many information services will eventually drop paper.

    1. Thanks for your input, it’s great your post has generated discussion around this. It was a Mashed Libraries event (Middlemash) that really got me thinking about these kind of skillsets too. It’s just a shame there aren’t more of these kind of events to give people a chance to pick up new skills while also showcasing other people’s mashups. Maybe it’s worth having similarly informal training sessions ….

  3. I had the opportunity to do a postgrad cert in Software Technology a number of years back. Hence Library Web was born. A programming librarian can certainly find useful things to do in this day and age.

    1. Hi Gareth,

      I agree about there being plenty to keep us busy. I imagine a lot of librarians interested in this area are looking to formal learning routes such as Postgrad Certificates. Were there some skills you found more applicable than others from this course?


  4. I have just come across this discussion. How true! I find that I tinker with updating websites and need to “teach” myself bits of coding, editing images using photoshop and rely on the goodwill of technical colleagues to give me technical tips which have now become part of my everyday job. I have tried to find courses that aren’t too in-depth but there doesn’t seem to be anything available. CILIP, this would be a good opportunity for a short course!

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