About Me

Since 1995, I've been working in libraries, first as a student worker, a graduate assistant, and in several professional positions. I've also been developing websites and online content since 1999. My upbringing and career have been infused with technology. Beginning with the Pine email client and Netscape Navigator in the mid-1990s, I've been using modern IT tools as they began to evolve into what they are today.

A lot has changed since the mid-1990s. However, libraries have been one of the few places that fully embraced new and emerging technologies from their inception. Libraries adopted platforms such as CD-Rom-based content databases and technology supporting the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) for several decades, and have been open to taking advantage of the potential to improve services and user experiences offered by technology. It's the excitement and promise of technology in libraries that caught my attention.

Robert Laws

I was fortunate to work as a graduate assistant in a forward-thinking library department at George Mason where I developed basic informational web pages. I also was fortunate to take a course in graduate school taught by professor Roy Rosenzweig who introduced me to the concept of Digital History and the power of technology and information in his course Clio Wired.

Having been exposed to the world-changing technologies that were still in their early stages in 1999, I grew more interested in web technologies and their growing impact. I also began learning more about early UI/UX concepts including the advent of Flash as an multimedia delivery system. After graduating from SUNY at Buffalo with a degree in Library and Information Science, I was able to further advance my skills in web development and was introduced to the .NET Framework and Object-Oriented Programming by creating a data-driven web application for the library.

Technology and Books

Moving on from here, I arrived at Georgetown University in Washington DC and immediately became involved in advising and developing data structures for the library archives, learning a lot about Encoded Archival Description (EAD) metadata standards. I also spent a good amount of time helping to enhance the user interface for the library catalog with Javascript. It was during this time I felt like I had a genuine understanding of Javascript and some of the core concepts behind many programming languages. It was exciting to work on a campus with thousands of students and researchers doing important work that depended heavily upon library resources and support for their success. The contributions I made to the online catalog played a small, but at the time an important step in the path of my career.

Overseas Adventures

An opportunity came up in the Fall of 2007 for me to move to Qatar and work for Georgetown University's campus overseas. Moving to Qatar, I got to experience life as an ex-patriot and acted as a department of one for the online presence of the Qatar campus library. I was able to lead multiple projects to redesign the library website, always looking to incorporate new technologies. Some examples of the technologies I explored and implemented are Jquery, JSON, CSS Frameworks, Drupal, WordPress and modern web development frameworks with AngularJS and React.

I also have greatly broadened my instructional skills and the many other soft skills that often go hand-in-hand with teaching. My instructional experience ranges from traditional information literacy sessions, to stand-alone courses on a wide array of technical topics, to a credit-bearing undergraduate course on Data Visualization that combines core concepts like data analysis, how to make persuasive arguments, and visual design with software instruction with Tableau.

I'm excited for the future in librarianship and web development. Technology advancements continue to move forward and will impact libraries for the foreseeable future. Changes like even-increasing network speeds will allow for fully stream-able media without the need to download local copies. Highly reactive websites will continue to improve the user experience and give web developers access to tools that can unleash their creativity and ambitions.

Trying to Keep Up with Change

That brings me to the present moment. I continue to explore the latest technologies and have lead classes or workshops on new software and modern web development. Currently, I'm exploring many different types of educational technologies and creating web experiences to augment the learning experience for students.

The key to success in the 21st century libraries is embracing and using technology. Robert Laws

For libraries, as well as many institutions and professions, it's necessary to keep up with the rapid changes introduced by technology to remain relevant in the 21st century.

Interests Outside of Web Development

Most of my waking hours are spent at a computer screen working with web technologies. However, during the hours when I'm not staring at a screen I'm either enjoying a run outside, traveling, taking photos, or spending time with my two dogs - Snowflake and Flurry.

I've been fortunate to have traveled widely throughout Europe. I particularly enjoyed visiting Germany, which has all the charms of the Old World, yet is a very modern and technologically advanced country. Many of my best photographs have been taken during my time visiting Germany.