What is Library Carpentry?

Library Carpentry is software and data skills training aimed at the needs and requirements of library professionals. Training takes place in face-to-face workshops where one or more of the ‘stable’ lessons are taught. Lessons are also made available online (CC BY, published via GitHub Pages) for self-directed study or for adaptation and reuse by library professionals.

Library Carpentry workshops have been taught right around the globe, and Library Carpentry won the 2016 British Library Labs Teaching and Learning Award.

Library Carpentry is in the commons and for the commons. It is not tied to any institution or person.

What is a Workshop?

A Library Carpentry workshop comprises one or more half-day or full-day, face-to-face sessions where one or more of the currently developed modules are taught. Ideally, four modules (e.g, Data Intro, Shell, Git, OpenRefine) will be taught in a workshop across four half-day ot two full-day sessions, but this is not mandatory. Organisers may prefer to teach the workshop over several days. While the original material is key, organisers may choose to swap in other modules to replace one of the core lessons, or teach it in addition. Workshops are interactive. Ideally attendees will bring their own laptops to workshops so that skills learned can be replicated outside of the workshop without the need for any additional setup.

Workshops are run by a team. Ideally this will consist of:

  • a Host (who is the principal local contact for the workshop)
  • Instructors (who present the tutorials and lead the practical exercises)
  • a Lead Instructor (who is in charge of deciding what will be taught by whom and ensuring the teaching aspects of the workshop go smoothly)
  • Helpers (who provide assistance during practical sessions). Workshops can be any size, though forty is probably the maximum number who can be taught.

To maintain the quality of Library Carpentry workshops, it is highly recommended that a Software/Data Carpentry certified instructor be present at each workshop. For more on Software/Data Carpentry instructors and instructor training, see http://software-carpentry.org/join/.

What is a Lesson?

A Library Carpentry lesson is a set of training materials that can be used either to run a half-day, face-to-face training session or as self-directed learning. Each lesson comprises 3-4 sections, is interactive, works across the Windows, OS X, and Linux operating systems (with all setup instructions included) and has a combination of follow-my-leader sections and exercises (and additional exercises) that map to library practice. Modules introduce software and concepts relevant to librarians and have a preference for open source and widely used software. Data used in exercises is library-related, e.g. bibliographic data.

Who is an Instructor?

A Library Carpentry instructor is anyone willing to lead a Library Carpentry workshop. There are at present no prerequisites or training required to run a workshop. Going forward we will continue to evaluate this, mindful of the success of the Software Carpentry Instructor Training approach and with the ambition for the lead instructor of every Library Carpentry workshop to have undergone Software Carpentry Instructor Training

How is Library Carpentry Managed?

Library Carpentry was developed and is maintained by volunteers. There is no central organisation or command structure, though we are planning to have an interim governance group by mid-year. All activity is - at present - voluntary. Management and maintenance are distributed. Each module is ‘owned’ by one of more individuals responsible for coordinating maintenance of that module. Changes to lessons are managed using the GitHub Issue tracker. Announcements and initial discussion take place on Gitter. New members are welcome to join this community or to join governance and management dicsussions via this Google Group.


You can follow Library Carpentry on Twitter or talk to other members of the community through our chatrooms. We have three - the Lobby, for general enquiries and conversations, a workshop requests and planning chatroom and another chatroom for lesson development discussions. You will need a GitHub username or Twitter handle to join any of these forums.

If you wish to request a workshop, please use this link. The Carpentries are now managing these requests on our behalf.

If you want to contact someone in the community, leave a message in our chatroom, raise a issue on one of our lesson repositories, or join the Google Group.


Baker, J. et al., (2016). Library Carpentry: software skills training for library professionals. LIBER Quarterly. 26(3), pp.141–162. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10176