One thing we Rascals knew at the outset was that we needed a place to play. Information sharing is great, but we all know from experience that, for work of this nature, the learning is in the doing. While Treehouse.com gave us prepackaged exercises we could follow, that didn’t challenge us to retain, adapt, and apply what we were learning beyond the moment the tutorial ended.
In a learning environment, space to play is essential. We wanted to identify a low stakes project that would allow us to build, test, and rework all the front-end development tools and strategies we were learning about. The end product would simply serve as a portfolio that we could share. However, as public services librarians, we were operating outside of our formal organizational roles. As a grass-roots group working on self-development, with perhaps a blessing but not a mandate from the administrative hierarchy, we had little access to the sanctioned resources. Without access to a library-run development server or sandbox, we would have to find another way.
We worked our way through growing pains and sidestepped many roadblocks; an idea was too large-scale, an idea crossed over too much into the responsibilities of another area in the organization, the experimental nature of our aims (education and staff development) meant our needs had far lower priority than projects already in line for production. So on. So we reset our direction. For the time being, our sandbox will be our free Mexican server access and our astro sites, and the back-end access we still have to systems like Libguides will be where we’ll tackle small “fixes” that can improve user experience.
Reflecting on a summer of jumping hurdles calls to mind a quote (attributed to various folks over time, but Grace Hopper might be most fitting to cite here): it is easier to ask forgiveness than get permission.