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West Vancouver Memorial Library, Welsh Hall

July 9-10, 2015

9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Instructors: Cam Macdonell, Vicky Varga

General Information

Software Carpentry's mission is to help librarians, scientists and others to get more research done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic lab skills for computing. This hands-on workshop will cover basic concepts and tools, including program design, programmatic data manipulation, data management, and task automation. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own data wrangling problems.

For more information on how Software Carpentry works with librarians, please see this blog post "Three Bootcamps for Librarians".

Who: The course is aimed at library staff with an interest in using programming to improve their workflow. Open to all interested members of the library community, including students in MLIS or Library Technician programs.

Where: 1950 Marine Drive, West Vancouver, B.C., V7V 1J8. Get directions with OpenStreetMap or Google Maps.


  • Registrations will be handled by the BCLA (page coming soon)
  • BCLA members: $175; Non-members: $225; Cancellation fee: $50
  • Registration includes morning and afternoon coffee breaks. Lunch is not included
  • The workshop is limited to 40 seats. Registration deadline is at 3pm on Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Requirements: Participants must bring a laptop with a few specific software packages installed (listed below). They are also required to abide by Software Carpentry's Code of Conduct.

Contact: Please mail Lynn Brockington for more information.

Your Instructors:
Cam MacDonell
Cam is an assistant professor at MacEwan University in the Department of Computer Science. MacEwan University is an undergraduate university that is located in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. His teaching and research relate to operating systems, software engineering, cloud computing and virtualization. Cam has taught three Software Carpentry bootcamps for Librarians, one in each of Edmonton, Toronto and New York.
Vicky Varga
Vicky is a librarian and IT manager at the Edmonton Public Library. She worked as a web developer at EPL for 5 years, primarily using PHP and ColdFusion. She is interested in teaching other librarians how to program, as she sees these skills as becoming increasingly important to the profession.


Day 1

09:00 Automating tasks with the Unix shell
10:30 Coffee
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 Building programs with Python
Cleaning data from a circ card using Python
14:30 Coffee
16:00 Wrap-up

Day 2

09:00 Managing data with SQL
10:30 Coffee
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 Regular Expressions (regex) and Bringin' it all together
14:30 Coffee
16:00 Wrap-up


The Unix Shell

  • Files and directories
  • History and tab completion
  • Pipes and redirection
  • Looping over files
  • Creating and running shell scripts
  • Finding things
  • Reference...

Programming in Python

  • Using libraries
  • Working with arrays
  • Reading and plotting data
  • Creating and using functions
  • Loops and conditionals
  • Defensive programming
  • Using Python from the command line
  • Reference...

Version Control with Git

  • Creating a repository
  • Recording changes to files: add, commit, ...
  • Viewing changes: status, diff, ...
  • Ignoring files
  • Working on the web: clone, pull, push, ...
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Open licenses
  • Where to host work, and why
  • Reference...

Managing Data with SQL

  • Reading and sorting data
  • Filtering with where
  • Calculating new values on the fly
  • Handling missing values
  • Combining values using aggregation
  • Combining information from multiple tables using join
  • Creating, modifying, and deleting data
  • Programming with databases
  • Reference...


To participate in a Software Carpentry workshop, you will need access to the software described below. In addition, you will need an up-to-date web browser. Once you are done installing the software listed below, please go to this page, which has instructions on how to test that everything was installed correctly.

The Bash Shell

Bash is a commonly-used shell that gives you the power to do simple tasks more quickly.


Install Git for Windows by downloading and running the installer. This will provide you with both Git and Bash in the Git Bash program.

Mac OS X

The default shell in all versions of Mac OS X is bash, so no need to install anything. You access bash from the Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities). You may want to keep Terminal in your dock for this workshop.


The default shell is usually Bash, but if your machine is set up differently you can run it by opening a terminal and typing bash. There is no need to install anything.


Git is a version control system that lets you track who made changes to what when and has options for easily updating a shared or public version of your code on You will need a supported web browser (current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or Internet Explorer version 9 or above).


Git should be installed on your computer as part of your Bash install (described above).

Mac OS X

For OS X 10.8 and higher, install Git for Mac by downloading and running the installer. After installing Git, there will not be anything in your /Applications folder, as Git is a command line program. For older versions of OS X (10.5-10.7) use the most recent available installer for your OS available here. Use the Leopard installer for 10.5 and the Snow Leopard installer for 10.6-10.7.


If Git is not already available on your machine you can try to install it via your distro's package manager. For Debian/Ubuntu run sudo apt-get install git and for Fedora run sudo yum install git.

Text Editor

When you're writing code, it's nice to have a text editor that is optimized for writing code, with features like automatic color-coding of key words. The default text editor on Mac OS X and Linux is usually set to Vim, which is not famous for being intuitive. if you accidentally find yourself stuck in it, try typing the escape key, followed by :q! (colon, lower-case 'q', exclamation mark), then hitting Return to return to the shell.


nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. To install it, download the Software Carpentry Windows installer and double click on the file to run it. This installer requires an active internet connection.

Others editors that you can use are Notepad++ or Sublime Text. Be aware that you must add its installation directory to your system path. Please ask your instructor to help you do this.

Mac OS X

nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. It should be pre-installed.

Others editors that you can use are Text Wrangler or Sublime Text.


nano is a basic editor and the default that instructors use in the workshop. It should be pre-installed.

Others editors that you can use are Gedit, Kate or Sublime Text.


Python is a popular language for scientific computing, and great for general-purpose programming as well. Installing all of its scientific packages individually can be a bit difficult, so we recommend an all-in-one installer.

Regardless of how you choose to install it, please make sure you install Python version 2.x and not version 3.x (e.g., 2.7 is fine but not 3.4). Python 3 introduced changes that will break some of the code we teach during the workshop.


Mac OS X

  • Python comes installed by default on OS X. You are good to go!
  • Download and install Wing 101 version 5.


  1. Your linux distribution likely comes with Python. Please ensure it is installed.
  2. Download and install Wing 101 version 5.


SQL is a specialized programming language used with databases. We use a simple database manager called SQLite in our lessons.


The Software Carpentry Windows Installer installs SQLite for Windows. If you used the installer to configure nano, you don't need to run it again.

Mac OS X

SQLite comes pre-installed on Mac OS X.


SQLite comes pre-installed on Linux.