By Janice Chan
Starting in 2017, Curtin University Library in Perth, Western Australia hosted a series of Library Carpentry workshops that were well attended. Staff feedback suggested that they would like to learn more and apply these new skills to their day-to-day work. The Library looked to Software Carpentry and borrowed the HackyHour concept, to create a space where staff could continue to apply what they’ve learned. Library HackyHour at Curtin University Library happens every second Thursday, in the Library Makerspace, from 12:00 to 13:00.
Library Carpentry is about hands-on learning, and Library HackyHour is when people come together to ask questions, discuss a project/data problem, get help, or learn something together. The aim is to foster a peer support network and encourage staff to try something new for themselves in a supportive and safe environment.
The Library also organises lightning talks every second HackHour which draw additional people. Lightning talk topics range from using the Microsoft mail merge function creatively to automate tasks to staff sharing their experience after attending a machine learning course.
Curtin University Library staff approached management early on to get their support for HackyHours. The staff presented a paper to get their support which was critical to encouraging more staff to join.
Library HackyHour is still in its early days, its success relies on culture change. We now have a core group of staff that attend Library HackyHour while colleagues from the library school and makerspace are encouraged to join. Some of the discussions and experiments we had at Library HackyHour have influenced implementations of library projects. For example, using GitLab to manage the online learning hub project; and using markdown to format training materials so that they’re more portable.
We are excited to share our experience running Library HackHours with the wider community and are keen on growing a community of practice beyond Curtin. We are interested in connecting with others who’re running similar programs, to learn from their experiences and see if there’s an opportunity to work together. Please reach out to Janice Chan firstname.lastname@example.org and/or share your stories on Twitter by including the @LibCarpentry Twitter account.