I've been a bit quiet for the last two weeks, ostensibly because I've been on vacation. However, much of the time I was preparing to deliver a two-day introduction to SQL for Evergreen to the good people at Bibliomation. On Wednesday I flew down to Middlebury, CT - Bibliomation central - and on Thursday and Friday of this week, I led nine great people* through the ropes of SQL: from understanding the basics of how SQL databases operate all the way through inner and outer joins and set operations. I also walked though a set of SQL queries I had developed to help Bibliomation with the recurring reports they need to provide to their member libraries.
Other than an episode of grievous illness on Thursday night that led to zero food intake and very little sleep on my part, I think things went well; it was gratifying to see lights go on in people's heads as we worked through hands-on exercises and tackled the same problem with different (but valid) approaches, and (with a few minor adjustments) the canned SQL queries seemed to meet their requirements. The feedback I received was positive, and by the time I left I had the sense that they had significantly increased their confidence in their ability to understand the queries I had written for them and to create their own queries. The major remaining learning curve is understanding how all of the pieces of the Evergreen database schema fit together, and through the two days I had tried to bring together pieces like the user tables, the library tables, the circulation and holds tables, and the record / call number / copy tables to help them find the right tables to bring together to meet their needs.
I am happy to say that Bibliomation agreed to my condition that I be allowed to release the materials for this workshop under a CC-BY-SA license, so others can take these materials, adapt or enhance them, and deliver similar training to other Evergreen libraries (as long as the attribution remains and the materials are offered under the same share-alike license). Many thanks to Bibliomation for this contribution to the community! Without further ado, here are the materials:
- Reference documentation (25-ish pages introducing SQL, ending with the canned SQL queries Bibliomation required): (HTML) (PDF)
- Presentation: (OpenOffice.org Impress) (PDF)
* Including people like Kate Sheehan, Melissa Lefebvre, and Benjamin Shum who I previously only knew from the Evergreen mailing lists and other online presences