What Does It Mean to Be a Lesson Program?
When Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry merged to become The Carpentries, one of the important things we needed to figure out was what it meant to be ‘a Carpentry’ within The Carpentries. Originally called Lesson Organisations in the merger discussions, they have been updated to be called ‘Lesson Programs’ in the current draft of the bylaws.
The idea for the Lesson Programs is that The Carpentries as an organisation can provide the operational and governance capacity and framework, and the Lesson Programs can focus on the goals, audience, and content of the curriculum within their program. This meant that Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry could retain the spirit of their lessons and community enthusiasm for those areas, while aligning operations around Membership, workshops, instructor training and other capacity building activities. It also created a pathway for new Lesson Programs, particularly for Library Carpentry, which was already an active community with a developing curriculum and interim governance group. We knew that working with Library Carpentry was on the short-term horizon.
It took longer than anticipated, but with the bylaws having gone through a Request for Comments (RFC), and working with Library Carpentry’s Governance Group, we now have a good framework to work with, including the model of ‘Incubating’ a Lesson Program, much like that of the Apache Software Foundation. While the Bylaws and the emerging Lesson Program Policy will guide how Lesson Programs operate, a key in working with Library Carpentry was that we realised we were missing a roadmap of what the process looks like, language to talk about Lesson Programs during the process, and what should happen with things like instructor training, websites, and community interactions. There were many things that we hadn’t considered and some mis-steps along the way. In particular, as Library Carpentry had developed, it had its own community of people passionate about the curriculum and the audience that it was serving. We hadn’t recognised the need to better integrate and inform community. By focusing on issues of bylaws and governance, rather than building community, we made integration seem more like a checklist than an enthusiastic embrace of community and curriculum. So, through the work of many people from Library Carpentry and The Carpentries, we have now gotten to a place with a framework, but our next steps need to be about community. Chris Erdmann, the Library Carpentry Community and Development Director, through California Digital Libraries has been working closely with both the Library Carpentry Governance Group and The Carpentries staff, and we’ll be focusing on more communication and community engagement. We’re also excited to be hiring for a new Community Engagement Lead where this will be a priority from the start.
In The Carpentries we say that the community is our strength, and we have the opportunity to further commit to that, integrate and expand the community, and in particular work with the awesome library community to develop Library Carpentry and Carpentries in the Libraries. Below is more on the importance, current state, and next steps of Library Carpentry, and we’re excited about where we can go together.
Importance of the Library Community in The Carpentries
Libraries continue to play a key strategic role in The Carpentries. More libraries are joining The Carpentries as Member Organisations and librarians are becoming Instructors. Libraries are an important key to sustaining data science training at organisations, including The Carpentries, as exemplified by this post from Elaine Westbrooks vice provost of University Libraries at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on The Strategic Value of Library Carpentry and The Carpentries to Research Libraries. Also The ‘Carpentries in the Libraries’ community call series has already had great speakers, and brought people together across libraries, research, and government. With Library Carpentry taking a big step towards becoming a Lesson Program, we are looking forward to libraries being integral in the continued growth of The Carpentries.
Roadmap for Library Carpentry
In May 2018, both The Carpentries Executive Council (EC) and the Library Carpentry Governance Group paved the way for “merger” discussions and Library Carpentry started the process of incubation as a Lesson Program. See this timeline for a full history of Library Carpentry. Since then, the EC drafted a Lesson Incubation Roadmap to guide the discussion and process. Library Carpentry has taken steps to respond to all the conditions outlined in the Roadmap including community and lesson program governance through a Governance Group and Curriculum Advisory Committee. Library Carpentry has defined who they are, in terms of their audience, and what the goals of the curriculum are:
“Library Carpentry develops lessons and teaches workshops for and with people working in library- and information-related roles. Our goal is to create an on-ramp to empower this community to use software and data in their own work as well as be advocates for and train others in efficient, effective and reproducible data and software practices.”
Library Carpentry Draft Website Ready for Review
To align with The Carpentries, and to share the Roadmap work of governance and community members, Library Carpentry moved to using The Carpentries website template. The draft website is now available for community feedback. We welcome issues and/or pull requests on the Library Carpentry ‘test’ repository. There are a number of new pages to review from “Our Audience” to “Get Involved.” We’re excited to hear back from community members about how this website could better serve our community’s needs!