This is the first blog post in a series authored by 7 individuals who received scholarships from the New England Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM NER) to attend the Library Carpentry Training held at Brown University on October 22nd and October 23, 2018. In this installment, a scholarship recipient describes what happened in the Library Carpentry Training. Please watch for additional posts about resources from this event and views from scholarship recipient’s in the upcoming weeks.
Jennifer Chaput – NNLM/NER Library Carpentry Blog
I was eager to attend the October 2018 Library Carpentry at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island for several reasons. I knew that I would be able to learn skills applicable to my own library work and meet some great librarians from around New England. Although this Carpentries’ workshop was targeted to librarians, the lessons taught are tools that I can also use in my work as a Research Data Librarian and share as speak to researchers on my campus about best practices and how to improve their workflows. Lastly, I will be getting certified as a Carpentries’ instructor next year, so I was glad to take a class from the student perspective.
The workshop totally lived up to my expectations. The first lesson was an “Introduction to Data” and even as a data librarian, I learned some new things. The discussion about jargon was enlightening and comforting in that so many of us don’t understand what our colleagues do! It was a great discussion about different terms that are commonly confusing, and not just to librarians. We also had lessons on Version Control with Git and the Unix Shell, which showed other ways of managing data and computer files beyond the typical drag and drop methods most users are familiar with.
The final lesson of the two-day workshop was on an application called OpenRefine, which allows spreadsheet data to be cleaned and transformed in batches rather than tediously going through the sheet line by line. This is a wonderful, time-saving tool that I look forward to using in my own work and sharing with my campus.
The way these tools are taught with the Carpentries’ lesson modules makes them feel usable and do-able, and that they are something I can continue to practice. Working through the lessons in small chunks with helpful and supportive instructors really helped me feel confident. I’ve also attended a Software Carpentry class and found that I got more out of the Library Carpentry class because it was in context of my work – so I can imagine how useful researchers will feel when I eventually teach them these tools! Even the lessons that I might not use myself often or at all, such as the Unix shell or Git, are tools that my researchers may use all the time and it’s helpful to have this background.
Thanks to the NNLM/NER for the travel stipend, to Brown University for hosting, and to NESCliC for the wonderful instructors! In addition to a great workshop, I enjoyed visiting the beautiful Brown campus and the great restaurants in Providence.