Tidy data for librarians

Library Carpentry’s aim is to teach researchers basic concepts, skills, and tools for working with data so that they can get more done in less time, and with less pain. The lessons below were designed for those interested in working with Library data in Spreadsheets.


Library Carpentry’s teaching is hands-on, so participants are encouraged to use their own computers to insure the proper setup of tools for an efficient workflow. These lessons assume no prior knowledge of the skills or tools, but working through this lesson requires working copies of the software described below. To most effectively use these materials, please make sure to install everything before working through this lesson.

Getting Started

To get started, follow the directions in the “Setup” tab to download data to your computer and follow any installation instructions.


Setup Dowload files used on the lesson.
00:00 Using spreadsheet programs for data wrangling What is this lesson all about?
00:30 Formatting data tables in Spreadsheets How should data tables be formatted in spreadsheets?
00:55 Formatting problems What common mistakes are made when formatting spreadsheets?
01:00 Dates as data How are dates handled by computers?
01:20 Basic quality assurance and control, and data manipulation in spreadsheets How can you keep data clean and sane?
01:50 Exporting data from spreadsheets What problems are there with Excel files?
How can these problems be solved?
02:00 Caveats of popular data and file formats What do you need to be aware of when exporting data?
02:10 Finish

The actual schedule may vary slightly depending on the topics and exercises chosen by the instructor.