The many uses of Git

Git is version control and collaboration software. It’s initially unintuitive and takes some time to learn (command line!), but it’s also powerful, broadly useful and generally awesome. I wish more librarians used Git because of the benefits it could bring to our collaborations.

Git is closely related to Github, which makes it possible to share Git repositories much more broadly. Git and Github are mostly used for coding projects, but librarians have used them to share lesson plans and to write peer-reviewed articles. (Stephen Zweibel helpfully pointed out to me that academics can get free private Github repositories.)

This past semester, I used Git to keep track of my lesson plans. This was useful because Git can divide projects into distinct “branches”, which allow you to work on different variations of the project separately from the “master” branch. I created a “master” lesson plan for my library instruction sessions at the start of this semester, and divided and sub-divided it into individual branches for each class that I taught. Git kept track of all of the changes and variations.

There are a number of places to learn Git. Here in New York City, METRO and the LACUNY Emerging Technologies Committee have recently had workshops on Git. Sometimes groups on have sessions devoted to Git. The Atlassian tutorials are really useful for figuring out the nitty-gritty. And of course you can learn Git on Github itself, with step by step tutorials here and here.

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