Just curious: Do you think there is a market for additional Rails contractors for libraries?

Fellow library tech people and other library people who read this blog, what do you think?

Are there libraries who would be interested in hiring a Rails contractor/consultant to do work for them, of any kind?

I know Data Curation Experts does a great job with what they do — do you think there is work for more than just them, whether on Blacklight/Hydra or other Rails?

Any sense of it, from where you work or what you’ve heard?

I’m just curious, thinking about some things.

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4 Responses to Just curious: Do you think there is a market for additional Rails contractors for libraries?

  1. Max Neuvians says:

    Coming from an outsider’s perspective I would like to note that the library market has been very unattractive for development consulting work in the past. I looked for smaller opportunities in regards to ruby/rails development work shortly after finishing my library degree in 2012, but found that I was either being stone walled on open source ideas (Bibliocommons revoked my API access after figuring out that I was not officially affiliated with a client), or the tasks were delegated to in-house programmers. Paired with a lower compensation for work done compared to working for commercial clients it did not make sense to try any further.

    It would be great to have a centralized marketplace or list that offers smaller development jobs to outside contractors. This would allow contract developers to become more familiar with library systems and allow libraries to share some of their load without paying a full time developer.

  2. yo_bj says:

    It would be a great benefit for smaller organizations or those without Ruby/Rails experience to have more contractors; I’ve seen libraries pass on using various Ruby/Rails solutions due to a lack of available contractors or do not have a contractor that knows library data structures well enough to be useful.

    Max brings up very valid points as to why we don’t have this marketplace: low pay, issues working with vendor solutions, and a lack of experience in libtech work for contractors coming from outside the field. A centralized marketplace is one way we can approach addressing these issues. Another way is to groom a general contractor to become fluent in libtech work. The small Islandora user group my school belongs to has been doing this with a Drupal dev contractor and it’s worked out pretty well so far. Nonetheless, this requires a long term commitment of resources, and some organizations that need the most support are unable to secure said resources.

  3. jrochkind says:

    It SEEMS like it could be of great benefit to me too, but what I’m not sure is how many libraries there are where decision-makers see it that way too and would be willing to hire a contracting firm or individual for actual projects at reasonable pay.

    But you’ve actually seen libraries that wanted to hire a contractor, but couldn’t find one to do what they needed, yo_bj? Interesting. So long as the reason they couldn’t find anyone is NOT because they couldn’t/wouldn’t pay going rates, that would seem to be encouraging as to the market.

  4. yo_bj says:

    Re: contractors, the libraries that I talked to either could not get a contractor due to the existing contractors being overwhelmed with existing contracts or did not have the resources to maintain a long term financial commitment to keep the contractor.

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