Aiming at accessibility for over 50 years

Digital library services and archives wouldn’t run without skilled IT personnel. Information system specialist works on both front and back-end of the solutions with the #powerofknowledge .

My name is Barunes Padhy and I’m working at the Helsinki University Library as an information systems specialist. I am a master’s student in computer science at the University of Helsinki. I’m planning on graduating by the end of this year. I arrived in Finland one year and nine months ago in September 2021. I joined the university library as a trainee developer, and eventually acquired a permanent full-time contract.

I primarily work on two things which are used extensively at the library: Open Repository Helda  and the library platform Helka. My task to make sure that it is easy for people to find what they want to find on a website. I’ve always had a lot of interest in full stack development which is essentially managing both front and back end, exactly what I'm doing right now. The fact that I'm doing exactly what I wanted to do for my bachelor’s, that makes me happy.

Digital Archive needs its developer

Helda is the primary tool to archive pretty much any article that comes out of the university, so it benefits both students, researchers and staff members at the university. It’s our job to make sure that any article that comes out of the university is archived properly and it's accessible to everyone even after 50 years of it being published.

Helda is going under an update project and that is where I'm involved. Even before the update project started, I was involved in making changes to the back end and the front-end. Front-end is the part that a user will see when you are on the website.  Back-end is the part that processes all the data and information. The university has a lot of requirements of its own, a lot of custom functions, and I'm responsible for implementing those, both on the front-end and the back end of the application.

I'm also really interested in how software is built, and all the architectural aspects of it. The repository solution Helda is built on a sophisticated software. It has a lot of moving components and parts. Whenever I'm being asked to implement a change, it takes quite a bit of analysis to see how the software is structured and when we make changes, we need to make sure it doesn't affect other things. I really like the fact that I get to observe and work with a solution that probably impacts a large userbase at the university.

The other task I have is the front end of a library platform interface (Helka) and it's my job to make sure that it's easy and convenient for users to find what they’re looking for, plus implementing other customizations as per university guidelines.

I spend like a quarter of my working time working from home and the rest of the time at the university. I usually prefer standing while working so you usually find me Infront of a standing desk.

In the footsteps of Linus Torvalds

My family got me a PC when I was a kid, and I was hooked to it, always doing some random stuff, playing games, coding something or really trying to dig in deeper into how computers work. Later, I also discovered that the person who created the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds, also graduated from University of Helsinki, so I got interested in studying here.

My aim is to publish a paper based on my thesis. The thesis is around bioinformatics. The topic is related to the fact that the researchers in the life sciences need to run a lot of tools in a command-line interface. However, using computers and the command line and a terminal can be overwhelming for people who don't have any background in IT. Researchers simply would like to run their analysis and see the result and then proceed. They don't care about which operating systems they are using or what are the nitty-gritties in the system. In my thesis I am trying to build a tool that can make the process easy for the researcher. My tool lets a user build a graphical user interface for almost any boring command line interface. Kind of like how google forms or Microsoft forms is used to build questions that people can fill in, but this tool does the same for the command-line. The researcher just needs to enter in whatever parameters they want to run the analysis.

I would say the entire experience here at the library has been amazing. I don't only discuss work related things with my colleagues but all kinds of stuff like food, places to visit, and where I should go next. I always try to discover new places when I get the time for it. There are a lot of interesting events at the university, too, for example the Vappu which was amazing. I also have frequent lunch sessions with colleagues and those long sessions are always great. We end up talking about some random stuff. It’s always nice when you connect with someone.