Google Colab: Easy Python code execution for non-programmers

Yukari Sugiyama is the Librarian for Discovery and Metadata Assessment at Yale University Library. She plays a key role in the areas of resource discovery and metadata management and performs analysis, remediation, and normalization of metadata in the library’s online catalogs and discovery layer. In ALA, she currently serves on ALCTS Cataloging and Classification Research Interest Group as vice co-chair and ALCTS Continuing Education Committee as ex-officio member.
Python is a programming language with a wide range of functionality including web searching, web scraping, data processing, and data visualization. It is becoming increasingly popular for automation and batch processing within technical services departments.

While it may not be easy to learn Python programming and write Python code, it is not necessarily difficult to execute a code itself.

Introducing Google Colab. Google Colab is a cloud-based software and is a newer addition to the Google Drive products. With the tool, you can write and execute Python programs in your browser without installing Python. What’s more, just like Google Docs or Sheets, Google Colab can be shared with others.

Here at Yale University Library Technical Services, I wrote some Python programs using Google Colab such as a backlog lookup, a link checker, and a MARC record generator for non-programmer cataloging staff. Without training, they can easily execute these programs on their computers. In this presentation, I will demonstrate how Google Colab works and explain how it made automation and batch processing much more approachable and accessible to non-programmer staff, resulting in increased productivity and collaboration.

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