At 11:12 PM 9/27/2004, Heather Yager wrote:
    1.  What are some good open source tools to begin learning?  What
is frequently used/good to know?

    2.  Good books to read?

    3.  What kind of work do you do?   What are the currrent
projects/problems to be solved in info tech/library science?

Lots of good answers so far. Here's two cents more:

1. Perl is undoubtedly the Swiss Army knife of my OSS toolkit. Whether the problem at hand is CGI, XML, systems admin, or transformations of raw data, I go to Perl again and again. Among other things, I rather like Expect, especially for troublesome legacy systems that require -- egads! -- telnet (Dynix ILS). Lots of folks find Linux and MySQL to be dandy (and plenty of library-oriented OSS projects assume this is your baseline), but <noflames> the geek in me vastly prefers FreeBSD and PostgreSQL </noflames>. Sorry, I don't have time to adequately defend that position right now, but if you're not already locked into a choice of platforms, do take a look at all the options.

2. What's this thing you call a "book"? ;-) Kidding aside, almost all the best info on open source systems is found on their respective project web sites. If you find you have a particular interest in a specific tool, go to the user forum for that tool and ask them what the best book is (better yet, check their FAQs and mailing list archives first). Odds are high that you'll hear "O'Reilly" echoing quite a lot. My own bookshelf is about 40% O'Reilly titles. If your library employer has NetLibrary or some other e-book collection, talk them into getting your favorite O'Reilly titles in full text searchable form. Very handy.

3. While many folks on this list are librarians gone geeky, I'm migrating the other way from pure geekdom to librarianship, being about halfway through the Master's program at UW-Madison. In my present job I support all manner of information systems from clients to servers to backbone networks. Much of what I do for Internet support involves OSS (FreeBSD, Apache, sendmail, squid, Perl, PostgreSQL) but those pesky Windows systems don't seem to be going anywhere...

I think the biggest information technology problem in libraries today is a combination of lack of understanding and lack of interest in understanding the way things work, especially with regard to network security. It's wonderful for you to have an English background, I think; writing about technology in a way that lay folk can understand is going to be hugely important no matter what tools you put in your kit.


--------------------------------------
Greg Barniskis <gregb@scls.lib.wi.us>
Library Interchange Network (LINK)
South Central Library System (SCLS)
(608) 266-6348 www.scls.lib.wi.us