I don't consider myself as a techie but I admit that I am interested in developments with technology. I am a librarian by profession and I have very little training with computers and other related things. In the course of time, as I have studied and interacted with people, I have gotten more hooked on to knowing what's going on in the tech world.
Then again, I am not so sure whether "tech world" is indeed a separate realm because we use technology everyday. I mean, a lot of us have mobile phones, tv sets, computers, calculators, etc. Even if we don't have all these gadgets, we have encountered them in one way or another. That's what fascinates me. Everytime I encounter a gadget, I gingerly move close to it, touch it and see what it does. Sometimes, I feel some sort of hesitation because I am intimidated. Weird, you might think, but I am sometimes wary because I might ruin it or mishandle it while testing it and I have no money in my pocket that would cover the expenses in case that happens.
Using a computer at home
At home, I have been using a computer since 1994. I was fourteen at that time and I needed a computer to try out the programs that we have been taught in school. Aside from that, I needed the computer to make reports. It was a time when the typewriter was not suited for me because I was a crammer and typewritten reports were difficult to type when one crams. At that time, I had boot diskettes containing DOS 6. (But the first time I handled those diskettes were in first year because I had to bring them in the lab so I would be able to use the computers.) And I had WordStar 5, I think. I had to remember all sorts of shortcuts just to make my reports. But ChiWriter came along and made life simpler. It was such a big thing for me back then. It took me a while before I had Windows 3.11. I was already in my senior year in high school when we had it installed in the computer at home. We were using Windows 3.11 even when a lot of people have already been using Windows 95. And I always thought, "What's with those numbers anyway?" I didn't get it. I was utterly clueless. I just used the computer. All I noticed was just how easily I got things done using Windows 3.11 compared to DOS. And of course, the GUI was so pretty. The reports I made in high school were sometimes typed using PrintMaster, or something like it, so that I could use pretty fonts and stuff like that. I didn't want to keep on using the very "boring" fonts of WordStar anymore. But that all ended when I got acquainted with Windows 3.11 and Word.
When I was in grade school, we had classes wherein we were taught Logo or something like that. There was a triangle on the screenand we called it a turtle. We were supposed to make it draw various shapes on the screen. I guess you could call it my introduction to programming or something like it.
In first year high school we had computer classes and we were taught how use DOS, WordStar and Lotus123. It wasn't so easy for me because I didn't have a computer at home yet until much later. Mom used to bring me to a computer shop which was relatively far from home. It was there where I applied what I learned in the classroom and it was pretty confusing sometimes because my mind was filled with shortcuts, concepts and what-not. I think that my teacher tried teaching us BASIC in the fourth quarter of my freshman year but we didn't progress much. That was why I hard a tremendously terrible time in my sophomore year. That was when I transferred to Philippine Science High School. Everyone was so smart and they knew everything while I was striving so hard to get the concepts in my head. (I guess that I might be a bit smart but most of what I know I learned the hard way. That or I could guess pretty well ^_-) My classmates were using BASIC quite naturally while I was way behind. I even had tutor - the very cool and smart Jason Alcarez. I'm certain that he found it difficult to teach me sometimes because i easily confused with stuff. He started coaching me with C, just the basic stuff that we needed for school.
By my junior year, I was somehow ok with the thought of going into ComSci class. After all, I had no choice because it was all part of the curriculum. I wasn't so intimidated anymore. Just a bit. And that was the time that we were taught Clipper. My groupmates and I weren't very good at it but somehow I managed to survive in class. Now that I think about it, a lot of the times I was seriously figuring things out while they were having fun just typing anything. They'd put in more comments (most of them were even unrelated to the objective of the exercises) while I would figure things out or ask someone to help us out. That did me some good because it made me think creatively. To a certain degree at least. But my senior year in high school was the toughest because my groupmates decided to use Visual Basic for our project and I wasn't able to do much except the bitmaps and documentation of the game. Also, I had difficulty in programming in my elective. I have guessed by that time that programming wasn't for me even if I was interested to learn.
And now that I think about it, I entered the College of Engineering in UP wanting to graduate BS Computer Engineering. Hehe. Wasn't that absurd? I was a student interested in computers but was intimidated by them. *laughs* Crazy, wasn't it? And guess what? I had 9 units of Computer Science classes on the curriculum...
I took up CS11 and CS12 under Ma'am Aduana in my first two years in college. There were lectures and exercises. I think that I understood the concepts... It's just that I couldn't program. You may think to yourself that it's weird of me but it's true. I can understand how things are supposed to work and I do know what the commands that I can use. But I couldn't program. I must be totally weird. That's why I had help from a lot of my friends. I guess I exasperated them but they were so nice to me. And I passed both CS11 and CS12. However CS32 was the bane of my existence (aside from the EEE subjects). It made me more afraid to try things out. It was a class on data structures and I think most of the people in class didn't really enjoy it for one reason or another. (Maybe Prof. Pros Naval was more than one bit scary.) The trauma for me was bad. The algorithms taught in class were swimming in my head and I could follow the "Easy" program (it was a pseudo program of sorts) that was on the class manual. And I could identify the steps that I should do in order to use it. But it was all to no avail.
I sigh thinking, "Has all been lost between programming and myself?" How come I wasn't able to really program at those opportunities? Is it really not for me?
Is there hope for me?
Then again I remember my struggle with Math. I was never a genius in Math... I remember being in Grade 1 and I had a low grade on my report card. The subject - Math. But I got beyond my Math anxiety. I had a tutor who encouraged me and helped me. By the time I was in fifth grade I was in the school Math Quiz Bee and I was usually in the top 3. I had similar problems with Math in college, especially Calculus. I had to take Math 53 and 54 twice. it was a joke that I took up Math 106 and Math 108 because I had to take each of them twice in a row because I flunked. And yet my second take of Math 54 was a different experience all together. Why? I had fun. I laugh about it because I swear that I did. Sure, it was tough. I had my index cards containing the formulae and concepts. They were even color coded. They were with me all the time. Schaum's was my constant friend. I passed! Not just a 3.0 on my card but it was a 2.75 and it was already a major feat because Math 54 is tough. The Math 55 came along. I was excelling in the exams. What on earth happened? I don't know. I just had fun. What was the difference? Nothing really except that I began to have fun. I was always studious. I always burned the midnight oil. But it was different because of the enjoyment. The pleasure of solving those equations was heaven for me at that time. And I had ES 21 as well and the differential equations were cute. I called them cute. Haha. I wish I still know how to do those things and find them cute. I haven't touched a single mathematical equation since I shifted to Library Science.
But I digress. The point is, I later had fun with Math, no matter how long it took me. I was able to overcome the fear. And here I am, sitting in front of the computer thinking about my future, my career path. Yes, I have barely begun my career as a librarian but I am already thinking about what I want to do in the long run. Being a librarian has many aspects. I like being a librarian because of that. There are so many things that a librarian can do. But I don't want to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. I want to be a jack of all trades and a master of one. I may not be the best in the field right now, but I want to make a difference. I don't want to be just the stereotype of the librarian that just sits on the reference desk and tells people to be quiet. I want to make sure that people have the information that they need at the right time. I want to facilitate in the use of all the information resources. I want people to enjoy learning and researching the way I love reading books and learning from them. And I want to do all of those with the technology that is available not just today but also the kind of technology that is to come.
Librarians and technology
It is frustrating sometimes because librarians must be well rounded but people expect them to be something else because of the stereotype. Librarians seem to surprise people when they know other things aside from the books that they have in the library. I have always been fond of going to the library and accessing various information sources. And I have always admired how librarians are able to sort things out for me, a library user. Now that I am one, I am finding it difficult to deal with people who have never ever been to a library and they don't seem to respect the materials there or myself or the other library users. I find it daunting that people think that I don't have anything else to do but sit there and wait for them to borrow the information sources that they need. I happen to be my own cataloguer, reference librarian, the person on the circulation desk, I am also the one who shelfs the books, entertains phone calls from various people who want to make transactions with me, the one who troubleshoots the computers (just the minor stuff), the one who looks for books and does the paperwork. And I also have to deal with people on a daily basis. Anyway, that's for another day. What I am saying is that I want to make libraries work better. Technology is a tool that I can use for this to happen. That is why two librarians I admire a lot are the late Dr. Josephine Sison and Mrs. Lourdes David of the Ateneo De Manila University. They are librarians who have integrated information technology in the field of library science. I think that are others who have done so but these are two that I have heard and seen. I have seen their passion and I have heard of their ideas. That is why I want to have the same kind of passion. I want the same kind of wisdom that they have, the same kind of perseverance.
That is why I am thinking of what to do. I want to plan things out. I don't want to just go with the flow. I want to make waves. Right now, I am encouraged that there are various open source software for libraries. We haven't used the same technologies in the library where I am working because I am focused on the collection development. But once I am done with cataloguing the books that we have, I will have the time to really maximize our information resources. People come and go in the libraries and you never know what they would ask for, what they need. Libraries have to be prepared for such things. That is why I am also thinking of linking up with other libraries once the collection we have has been accounted for and catalogued.
Maybe post grad studies is something I am not yet ready for. After all, I am not yet sure what to take. I have been thinking about taking up IT in ADMU or TMC in UP. But those are two very different programs. I was thinking there is a school that has something in between. If I take up IT, I might be too intimidated because of the CS subjects. If I take TMC, I might havethe knowledge to manage technology for libraries but I might not have the know-how which is what I would also like to have.
This has already become a very long thought... But it just means that I am serious enough to consider a lot of things in my life.