Introduction to Python at ALA Annual (or: awesome = True #ala2013py)

On Friday of ALA 2013, the LITA/ALCTS Library Code Year Interest Group taught about 40 librarians the basics of Python programming at a LITA preconference. Chicago was so excited about this that two million people showed up to celebrate!1

Topics included installing Python; data types; if/then/else statements; for and while loops; variables; lists and dictionaries; modules; and functions. By the end of the day, students were using these concepts to write and modify their own Python programs. If you want more details, or are wondering what these terms mean, you can check out all the course materials.

We also had some lightning talks to showcase real-world applications of Python. The lightning talks were over lunch, which we were able to offer due to generous sponsorship from the Python Software Foundation and PA Farrington Associates. Thank you!

All in all, the day was a fire hose of learning, in a great way. You can read some of co-teacher Eric Phetteplace’s lessons learned, or see the whole day at our Storify. If you blogged/tweeted/Instagrammed/etc. about the event, we’d love for you to post the link here, too.

And we’re not done. Whether you were a preconference student who’s looking for next steps, or an interested observer who wants to get involved, we have ideas and questions for you!

The interest group is planning a hackathon for 2014; go join the Connect group if you want to be a part of making that happen. The Python Software Foundation has lots of local user groups you can join, and the call for proposals for PyCon just went live. And what do you think? Should we offer more courses like this, or courses that build on basic programming skills? What would help you take your next steps?

I’ll leave the summary to one of our amazing students:


1. Or maybe that was something about hockey.