Librarians and Open Source: We Need Code, Too!

We Need Code For Ourselves

...But We're Looking For Unicorns

Libraries Are Looking For Unicorns

My library system, Pierce County Library System serves an operating area of approximately 565,000 people. Let's say half of them have library cards, which is pretty consistent with data that I've had before. To accomplish the task of helping out approximately 282,500 people with their library tasks, we employ... 16 people, plus 2 managers to smooth the process. They're mostly concentrated on keeping the systems in our 18 locations running smoothly. Three of them are "Software engineers" or "User Experience Designers". One is a Database administrator, and one is a Library Systems Administartor who is our expert on the Integrated Lirbary System (ILS) that we use, Polaris.

Suffice it to say, we have just enough people to keep the place running without being able to devote much time at all to thinking beyond that point. Slowly, things might be getting better (I hear that there are actual developer jobs making their way through all the approvals needed to fund and post them), but at this particular point, we just don't have the staff to do much more than put out fires when they appear and to keep things patched and working.

Come work for your public library, we say. The pay is decent, and you'll enjoy serving an appreciative public. We just need to make sure that you're an expert on several different technologies, to the point where we've already excluded the vast majority of people who might want to work for us, and then we're probably going to understaff them and expect them to be able to run the ship missing a sail or two, because that's what we have funding for.