Happy Ada Lovelace Day, Susan!

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

Ada Lovelace was one of the world’s first computer programmers, and one of the first people to see computers as more than just a machine for doing sums. She wrote programmes for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, a general-purpose computing machine, despite the fact that it was never built. She also wrote the very first description of a computer and of software. -from the Ada Lovelace pledge page

As such, we have a day to celebrate her! On this day, we blog about women excelling in technology. And it’s a no-brainer who I should write about on Ada Lovelace Day: it’s Susan Sharpless Smith.

When I got started in libraries, I was playing with technology because it was fun and I thought we could use it to provide better service. I never thought of myself as techy and I had pretty much ruled out the idea of technology work after some bad experiences in a college computer science program.

When I started working at Wake Forest, I met Susan, and learned from her that technology work didn’t necessarily mean coding, and in fact, an understanding of the uses of technology and the user experience are valuable and important skills to bring to technology work. It took me a long time (years!) to understand what she was getting at, but I think I am beginning understand it now. As early adopters of technology, we can bring an eye for tools, trends, and our users to technology work, and our technology all of our work will be better for it. (See, I’m still figuring it out!)

First I worked with Susan interdepartmentally, then on a practicum for library school. Eventually I reported to her and now report to her through our assistant head of technology. As I’ve found my place within the field, I’ve realized that our interests are much more closely aligned than I would have guessed when I was just getting started. It’s fun to work with the person who wrote the book on the subject of library educational technology. And it’s been really rewarding to get to collaborate and work on projects together.

So today, on Ada Lovelace Day, I say thank you to Susan for helping me redefine what it means to be a technology worker, and helping me find my place within the field. And thank you for being a role model for those of us who are getting started with technology work.

My name is Lauren Pressley. This is where I think out loud, document what I'm doing, and share the things that I like. I'm the Director for Learning Environments at Virginia Tech University Libraries and author of a few books. This blog focuses on libraries, education, information, & the internet. When not at work or blogging, I spend most of my time with John and our son, Leif.