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osgeo.org is the Python API to the GDAL/OGR library. All one needs for creating, reading, and modifying shapefiles and the rest.
Here's a nice presentation from which I sourced most information: http://download.osgeo.org/gdal/presentations/OpenSource_Weds_Andre_CUGOS.pdf

In order to load the library one needs to import the module first:

from osgeo import ogr as o

the, open the shapefile:

indrv = o.GetDriverByName( 'ESRI Shapefile' )
shapefile = o.Open( NameOfYourShapefile )