Introduction to R for Libraries

This webinar series was presented on May 9, May 23, and May 30, 2018. Access the recording and materials now:



Libraries now have access to an abundance of data reflecting multiple facets of our collections, users, and services. Examples include collections data pulled from the ILS, ebook and database usage data, university enrollment data, and local user demographic data. This data is often large, untidy, and difficult to work with in traditional spreadsheet software.
"R" is a free and open source programming language used for data manipulation, analysis, and visualization. It is more powerful and flexible than spreadsheet software and can run complex operations in a fraction of the time. This series will provide a soft introduction to working with data using R in the R Studio software environment. Participants will learn how to use R Studio, read in and explore datasets, understand error messages, execute some simple manipulations such as subsetting and renaming, and create a basic visualization.

Series sessions include:

May 9 - Introduction to R for Libraries, Part 1

This first session will include what R is, reasons to use R over other data tools, getting used to a command line software, and how to install R and R Studio, an orientation to the R Studio software, the data structures in R (e.g. numeric data, text string, factors).

May 23 - Introduction to R for Libraries, Part 2

This second session will demonstrate how to enter commands, read data and do some basic exploration, common troubleshooting issues in R and how to interpret error messages.

May 30 - Introduction to R for Libraries, Part 3

This third session will go deeper into data exploration and manipulation, including subsetting data, creating and renaming variables, creating a basic visualization, installing packages, and a brief overview of more complex operations one can run in R.

Learning Outcomes

This webinar series examines what R does and how to navigate the R environment and will include the basics of R syntax, understanding the purposes of different panes in R Studio, and understanding error messages and getting help. 

Participants will learn how to read in a dataset and conduct some basic explorations of it. They will run a very simple subsetting operation, and create a simple barplot. It will include a training dataset of ebook usage with some randomly generated usage statistics in order to help contextualize and reinforce the advantages of using R.

Who Should Attend

Those who work with data as a central part of their job. This would likely include serials librarians, cataloging librarians, archivists, and collection development librarians.


Clarke Iakovakis is the Scholarly Communications Librarian at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He has worked in both academic and public libraries since 2007 as a page, library assistant, and research & instruction librarian. He has presented at ACRL and ALA on topics pertaining to usability and incorporating data into assessment. He is currently achieving his master's degree in history, and he does not come from a computing or technical background. 



A recording of this webinar series is now available since the six month date of the presentation has passed.

How to Register

No registration required.

Tech Requirements

Computer with Internet access (high-speed connection is best) and media player software. Headphones recommended.

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For all other questions or comments related to the webinars, contact Megan Dougherty, Program Officer, Continuing Education, at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5038 or