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Libraries Ready to Code Collection beta release this week

This post originally appeared in American Libraries blog The Scoop on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. It is co-written by Marijke Visser, associate director and senior policy advocate at ALA’s Washington Office and Libraries Ready to Code project leader, along with Nicky Rigg, CS education program manager at Google.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Libraries Ready to Code initiative, sponsored by Google, is releasing the beta version of the Ready to Code Collection at the 2018 Annual Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans. The release party will be held Friday, June 22, at the Morial Convention Center in the exhibit hall at Google booth #4029.

Members of the Libraries Ready to Code cohort meet at ALA’s 2018 Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colo.

The Libraries Ready to Code Collection is a cache of resources developed, tested, and curated by libraries, for libraries to create, implement, and enhance their computer science (CS) programming for youth. In the nine months since Libraries Ready to Code announced the 28 grantee libraries participating in the project, the cohort has piloted a range of programs:

  • Middle school library and technology staff working with local nonprofits to identify needs of local businesses and nonprofits and enabling young library users to fill those needs through applied coding projects.
  • high school librarian collaborating with a local music mentorship program to teach youth in special education classes how to code music with assistive technology.
  • Public librarians in a rural community teaching coding languages to help youth engineer and operate a FarmBot robotic gardener.
  • Elementary school librarians leading 4th–8th-grade students through an interest-based coding club and helping students to develop their own workshops showcasing their skills as coding mentors to K–3rd graders.

Learnings from these programs are presented in a comprehensive guide to enable library professionals to cultivate their young patrons’ computational thinking (CT) literacies—their ability to solve complex problems through a step-by-step analytical process.

As cohort members discovered, it takes more than sophisticated technology and fun activities to make a CS/CT program successful. As a variety of critical components of a strong CS program surfaced, the Collection evolved to include strategies for:

  • broadening participation;
  • connecting with youth interests and emphasizing youth voice;
  • engaging with communities;
  • engaging with families; and
  • demonstrating impact through outcomes.

Developing the collection and implementing Ready to Code principles has been a labor of love for the cohort libraries as a community of practice. They have workshopped their experiences in formal weekly meetings and informal listservs. They have been both cheerleaders and critics for each other’s programs. Now they’re looking to other library professionals for input.

Starting June 22, librarians will be able to view the beta version of the Libraries Ready to Code Collection online, determine a Ready to Code “persona,” and provide feedback on the content in an online survey or in person at one of the Libraries Ready to Code sessions or the Ready to Code/Google booth. Librarians can also visit the Ready to Code Teaching Theater in the exhibit hall, where cohort members will demonstrate some of their activities and discuss their programs on June 23 and 24. The final Ready to Code Collection will be released in fall 2018.

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Marijke Visser

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