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Carrie Bickner

You are reading and understanding this because at somepoint a librarian gave you a hand.
Librarians don't just shoosh and stamp anymore. Meet The Rogue Librarian.

About you

What did you do before the Web?

Waitress at a diner with a serious early bird special. Waitress at a sports bar. Better tips, light-beer drunks. Waitress at a classier sports bar. Slightly classier drunks. College Student in Studies in Religion. Quasi middle manager for an evil empire. Canned after 10 months. Waitress at a five-star restaurant that served well-heeled drunks. By the end of it all, I was ready for a job where I knew no one was going to grab my ass.

How did you find the web?

It really started with the Internet. I was using pine email, UNIX-based chat rooms and electronic databases. It was a command line world, and I loved using it. But when that world became a graphical one, I wanted to become a contributor.

My first web site was for the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at The University of Michigan. The site is still there, almost exactly as I built it in 1996. As I was working on that site, I was applying to library school. I matriculated just as the school was beginning to have a heavy-duty technology focus. My classmates and I learned JavaScript, HTML, and SGML. We even made a feeble attempt to learn Java.

While in school, I participated in my first substantial Web projects: The Internet Public Library (IPL), where I built a few Web pages and answered email reference questions, and The Humanities Text Initiative (HTI) where I did SGML markup of scholarly texts.

These were important formative experiences because both the IPL and the HTI were strict about structural markup. It made me a bit of a hypertext tyrant, but I am glad of that.

Why are you here?

Because I belong here. And because if you sit on your ass all day long, no one has a chance to grab it.

Methods of production

What do you use to create your sites?

The software includes PhotoShop, HomeSite and DreamWeaver. I use ColdFusion for the applications that I build for The New York Public Library. For my own site, I recently moved to ZOPE. I have a kick-ass systems administrator who helped me make the transition from a little CF app that I had built.

I am pretty fussy about well formed (X)HTML, especially in my work for The New York Public Library. The stuff I make and commission for the library needs to be durable, so I require all pages to validate.

I think about markup the way a more traditional librarian would think about the manufacturer of a printed book. I look for well-produced structural markup the way my print-world counter part would look for acid-free paper and a good binding. Library materials, whatever format, need to be preserved. If they are built well, they will last.

About the Web

What do you see as the greatest strengths of the web?

The web connects us to the very best that people have to offer -- creativity, community, passion -- and it does so with great immediacy and democracy.

What do you see as the greatest dangers?

The web connects us to the very worst that people have to offer - criminality, invasiveness, perversion -- and it does so with great immediacy and democracy.

What would you say to folks who want to work the web?

Hang a photograph or painting behind your monitor. Make sure you look at it every fifteen minutes. This will help your eyes recover from strain.

Learn how to do things the proper way immediately. You will save yourself and your clients time and money down the line.

And, of course, read Zeldman every day.

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Carrie Bickner
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