about diy librarian
what is DIY? (7-17-03)
Like many questions, I suppose the answer depends on who you ask. As far as I'm concerned, DIY means Do It Yourself. It's most often associated with home improvement and punk. (Now how often do those two groups get together?) When I got the idea to start this web page, I was thinking of the punk DIY community, the people who decided they didn't need major labels and oodles of cash to put out records. But the home improvement model works, too. When you do it yourself, whether "it" be redoing your kitchen, putting out a record, or building a web site, you have no one but yourself to blame for the results.
Like encyclopedias? Here's an encyclopedia entry for "DIY punk ethic".
introduction (from my first entry, posted 6-26-03)
A few months ago, Punk Planet ran a feature about "radical librarians" (as a good librarian I must tell you it was in issue no. 52) which got me to thinking about what, exactly, a "diy librarian" might be. Well, I know I like to do things myself, and I am a librarian. Besides that, I like to do things myself in my library. Why spend oodles of money buying an automated library system when I can do it myself? A practically-minded person might tell you that the oodles of money spent purchasing an automated library system might well save my employer a lot of my time, which could be spent doing other things. It might also give us a better system in a shorter period of time. But, a diy librarian would tell you that no pre-packaged library system ever does everything that you want it to. No pre-packaged library system guarantees that you can get your data out of it and into another system, should you want to switch software, without hassles. And no pre-packaged library system lets me make changes how I want, when I want, and learn about systems design in the process. Now I just need to figure out how to do all this without using Micros**t products (yes, I know there are ways, it will just take me some time...)!
So I started this site as a place to collect resources on librarianship and the punk/DIY aesthetic. Most of the resources right now are links to other sites, but I hope to add my own ideas and, who knows, perhaps some contributions from others.
some technical notes (from an entry posted 12-1-04)
A little while ago, someone emailed me to ask how I set this blog up. So I thought I'd post my reply, in case anyone else wants to know.
The diy librarian site resides on a Penn State server designated for personal web pages. I set it up here because it's free, and I initially wasn't sure how much I wanted to invest in this site. Eventually, I hope to move the site to server space where I will be allowed to use my own domain name. I've been doing this for about a year and a half now, and I've decided it's worth the time and money to maintain.
I hand code everything using the UNIX vi text editor, including the RSS feed. I do this partially because installing blogging software on a Penn State server seemed like it was going to be a hassle, and partly because, well, that would be the DIY thing to do, wouldn't it?
I've found my coding gets faster and faster the more I do it, and I've learned all kinds of copying tricks in vi that make it even faster. Plus, I pride myself on my typing skills and this helps me keep them up. My original plan was to migrate to blogging software at some point, but now I'm not sure I'll do that. Sure, it would make posting easier, but part of me thinks the work involved in posting (writing the entry on the monthly archive page, copying it onto the main index page, and converting it to RSS; uploading the pages to the web server; and then checking the HTML pages and validating the RSS feed) is a good thing. It makes me think, "Is this really worth posting? Am I adding anything new or just rehashing something that's already made the blogosphere rounds? Do I really want to say this in public? Am I being offensive or invading someone's privacy?"
I've learned a lot from other web sites during this process. Here are a few I rely heavily on:
- Sizzling HTML Jalfrezi - good overview of HTML
- ColorPicker II
- Feed Validator for Atom and RSS
- A List Apart - magazine "For people who make websites"
- Index DOT Html and Index DOT Css: The Advanced HTML/CSS References
- Library Stuff - weblog on keeping current and professional development for librarians - links to lots of resources on RSS and blogging
- librarian.net - much of my inspiration came from this pioneering library blog ("putting the rarin' back in librarian since 1993")