Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Library Carpentry Governance - An Update

Eight of us from Australia, the UK, the US, Canada, and South Africa met last week via zoom to discuss taking the Library Carpentry project forward.

We discussed the creation of a new website to replace this one, talked about what constitutes a Library Carpentry workshop, discussed who can teach the material, and and started thinking about what kind of governance structure we need to lead the work from now on. There was an update on the status of the IMLS-funded Library Carpentry Coordinator role to be based at CDL.

The website

Richard Vankoningsveld has done a great draft of a new website. Can people please have a look at it and raise issues that need fixing on the repo? We would be very grateful for comments and feedback - please file as many issues as you need to address any problems or omissions. If you are interested in working on the repo or having rights to edit, please ask there by raising an issue.

One day or two day workshops?

While Software and Data Carpentry workshops run for two days, this can be problematic for librarians. Many librarians struggle to be granted time out for training, so two consecutive days off might be too big an ask. Accordingly, a one-day format might be the best way forward for now. If people want a two-day format, then the workshop could be split, e.g. over four mornings, or single days in separate weeks.

What is a workshop?

For a workshop to be badged Library Carpentry, the community needs to establish what the core curriculum is. There is a statement to that effect under What is a workshop? on the old website. This group will revisit that in the coming weeks. Belinda suggested that the core curriculum could be Intro to Data (which includes regular expressions), Shell and OpenRefine. That material can be taught within a (fairly intense) day. People can then add extras from the other modules under development if they want to have a two-day format, or they can stretch the core curriculum to be taught over two days, which would give more time for people to practise and embed what they have learned.

Who is an instructor?

The question of Who is an instructor? has been addressed on the old website, with general agreement that instructors should have completed the Carpentries instructor training program. Since we eventually plan to merge with the Carpentries, this makes sense for the long-term sustainability of Library Carpentry. However, we do not want to mandate that certification for now as we do not have enough trained instructors. Through the IMLS-funded project with the California Digital Libraries, The Carpentries have already committed to running two open instructor trainings for librarians this year.

Though this was not raised at the meeting, we are now developing an onboarding process for certified Data and Software Carpentry instructors who would like to teach Library Carpentry. Have your say in what we should include.


Belinda suggested that at the minimum we need a chair, a co-chair, and a secretary, and suggested she could be the liaison between the eventual governance group and the Carpentries. Tim Dennis and Juliane Schneidler have put together this document for discussion about the role of a governance group.

Greg Wilson proposed we review that document between now and May, with a view to electing an interim governance group when we meet at CarpentryCon 2018 in Dublin. Please add your thoughts by raising an issue on the repo.

Workshop requests

The Carpentries are now taking responsibility for organising Library Carpentry workshops. Use this form to request a Library Carpentry workshop.

Library Carpentry Position based at CDL

Interviews are ongoing for this position. It was readvertised when no appointment was made from the first round. We hope that there will be an appointment soon. The person in the role will work jointly with CDL and the Carpentries, and will look at finalising lessons, and building a network to grow workshop and instructor numbers in the US and more globally.

Summing Up

All in all, this was a very productive meeting. This group plans to meet monthly to discuss business as we move forward to a merger with the Carpentries.

Post-Dublin, we should have a governance group that, with the help of the CDL-based position, can take forward the work of finalising lessons, defining core curriculum, extending workshops, and boosting instructor numbers. Having that group will also put us in a position to seek additional funding from library associations and related groups who might be interested in supporting our work.

It is an exciting time to be involved with Library Carpentry! Come and say hi in the chatroom and start your Library Carpentry journey. You can watch our Twitter feed for news too.

Greg Wilson suggested we all get hold of Building Powerful Community Organizations by Michael Jacoby Brown and discuss it over the coming months.


Dialogue & Discussion

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