Interview with an author: Brady Lund Ph.D. on Python for Information Professionals

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

December 19, 2023

Brady Lund Ph.D. is the lead author of Python for Information Professionals: How to Design Practical Applications to Capitalize on the Data Explosion. This is an important book for librarians who want to gain knowledge in using data. My interview with Dr. Lund is below.

1. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I am a second-year assistant professor of information science at the University of North Texas. My primary interest is to understand how people and society interact with emerging technology and how we can harness this technology to reduce barriers and improve lives. My coauthors include Daniel Agbaji and Kossi Bissadu, both Ph.D. students in the Department of Information Science, and Dr. Haihua Chen, assistant professor of data science here at UNT.

2. Briefly summarize Python for Information Professionals: How to Design Practical Applications to Capitalize on the Data Explosion.

While there are many books that try to teach basic Python programming skills, there are no such books focusing on Python skills specific to the tasks and opportunities available in library settings. The objective of this book is to provide this introduction, discussing the fundamentals of Python programming using library-specific examples and datasets, and discussing social and ethical issues with Python programming and data science in general that are important for the successful modern information professional.

3. Why did you and your co-authors decide to write this book?

Libraries and librarians are often asked to step into new roles, especially at academic and special libraries. Data science roles for information professionals are increasingly common, and the job market certainly shows movement in the direction of information professionals with data science skills and/or knowledge. While there are many good Python books out there, we believe that learning happens best when you are able to contextualize it with examples and data relevant to your role and interests. This book fills that gap.

4. How are information professionals using Python?

Python is a highly versatile programming language. It is used to perform a wide variety of tasks, and is popular for the development of many of the artificial intelligence applications that we see emerging today, like ChatGPT. Even for information professionals who are not working directly in a role like “data librarian,” some familiarity with the backbone of many of the emerging applications we will see and work with in coming years is critical. It helps us to understand how these programs “think.”

5. Why is Python a good programming language for information professionals?

Python has quickly become the most popular programming language in the world, owing to its ease-to-learn and versatility. It is particularly useful for data science and artificial intelligence applications, which are becoming increasingly present in our world. Having this skill set can open up new employment opportunities or opportunities to advance in your current institution and further demonstrate your value as an information professional.

6. In what ways do you see Python assisting with the jobs of information professionals in the future?

Python is very helpful for the purposes of data analysis and visualization. Libraries collect a lot of data and often do little to analyze it. Harnessing the power of Python will create new insights about the functioning and value of libraries. Additionally, I believe that having a Python skillset makes you marketable to a parent organization, like a university (academic library) or company (special library). It is another way to add value to the organization and demonstrate a clear rationale for funding increases, inclusion in exciting new initiatives, and more.

7. Is there anything else you would like to share?

We are excited to share this book with readers from all types of libraries around the world. We believe there is something for everyone. The content about the societal impact and ethics of using Python and data science tools will be relevant to anyone who works with information resources. 

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Dr. Lauren Hays is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent presenter and interviewer on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Please read Lauren’s other posts relevant to special librarians. Take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.

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