Code Clubs, Technoclubs and Raspberry Pi

Neath Port Talbot Libraries Technoclubs

What? Library run Computer-Coding and Robotics Club – learning to code, designing games

Purpose? Raised aspirations of children; greater
take-up of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects; and increased profile for libraries’ role in promoting STEM and computer science

Target audience? Primary and secondary school aged children

How might it be used? Increase use by children and young people, raise profile of libraries as community spaces delivering skills, 21st century libraries, links with SCL Universal Learning Offer

How to find out more? Enterprising Libraries: Neath Port Talbot Scratch programme 


Devon Libraries Raspberry Pi Jam and Code Club

What? Library run Computer-Coding and Rasperry Pi Jam – learning to code, designing games, basics in using Scratch and Python programmes on the Raspberry Pi computer

Purpose? Increased profile for libraries’ role in contributing to Digital Literacy

Target audience? Primary and secondary school aged children

How might it be used? Increase use by children, young people and families, increase digital literacy, develop new partnerships,  links with SCL Universal Learning Offer 

How to find out more? Code Club at Exeter LibraryYoung Coders and Gamers at Exeter, Code Club Volunteer Role Description, What is Raspberry Pi?

See also Treehouse

Sharing the knowledge gained from the SCL Digital Leaders Pilot (facilitated by Ben Lee and Ethan Ohs from Shared Intelligence) with colleagues  – ideas, examples and inspiration.

Library Pen Pals aka International Librarians Network

Library Pen Pals aka International Librarians Network

It popped up on Twitter. A form to fill in. The chance to chat remotely with a librarian from another country. I excitedly filled the form in. And then I waited….

The International Librarians Network is a meeting place for librarians from across the world. The peer mentoring programme is designed to link librarians together in a partnership, with the promise of regular virtual interactions that will enable both partners to learn.

I was absolutely delighted when, a few weeks later, I received the email saying my application had been successful and then another with the details of my partner librarian from Botswana! Wowee!

I quickly read up on Botswana and found some information about libraries in that region. We’ve already exchanged our first emails and there are many similarities in our libraries and the challenges we face. I’m already hooked! I can’t wait to find out more.

I also jumped back on to Twitter to see what was being said about #interlibnet and sure enough there were librarians from around the world making connections and chatting.

All this excitement following one simple form found on Twitter!

Innovation – through the eyes of a mercenary librarian

I instantly got the impression that Corinne Hill, director of Chattanooga Public Library in Tennessee, is one of life’s eternal ‘can do’ people. She is truly inspirational – a full on whirlwind in your face (‘breathe of fresh air’ doesn’t even come close!)

I had the opportunity to listen to Corinne speak at the Constant Evolution event in Exeter Library yesterday evening. There were so many things that struck a cord:

“Our current world is volatile, uncertain, complex, chaotic, and ambiguous.”
Since what Corinne calls ‘the Great Recession of 2008’ libraries across the world have seen their budgets cut and their existence challenged. Chattanooga Public Library was no different, but has been forging ahead.

Corinne Hill is director of Chattanooga, and has been winning awards for her forward thinking and groundbreaking service. Although she took on, what she calls a ‘failing service’, it now hosts a 12,000 square foot makerspace (previously a library store room) – where top notch design software and technology sits beside a traditional loom, where innovative concepts are worked on alongside the creation of wedding dresses! They’ve got their own brand of coffee too – ‘Shush’.

“Innovation gets old quick”
“Libraries have survived for 3000 years because we have adapted. There is no time more critical for adaptation than now.” Corinne believes libraries need to be constantly innovating as what’s new today is old tomorrow.

Whilst she asserts that we can’t know what is in the future, she does say the future is on the edges of what we are doing now and recommends keeping an eye on the horizon – “you should know what Samsung are developing next”.

“We need to stop being missionaries and start being mercenaries”
In a time when funding is being slashed from library budgets, Corinne notes that accounting for every Dime is crucial. She questions the need to spend money on stationary, when small savings across the board can finance the next big software purchase.

She also says we must concentrate on our core aims and stop trying to defend services simply because we are the only ones on the high street offering them.

The vision is the plan, and since for Corinne innovation is the vision you can’t plan what will develop next. She questions why libraries get ‘obsessive’ about the plan, becoming rutted in the planning cycle – missing opportunities to innovate as a result.

People power
One strand that flowed through Corinne’s revelations was the importance of embracing a diverse and challenging group of people.

She believes there is no shame in finding the staff role you want and borrowing the job description – Corinne found her perfect role match when visiting a well known tech support ‘bar’.

Corinne talked about ‘collaborative leadership’ where staff from all levels are encouraged to shine – this has created a culture of entrepreneurial-ship. You can see how excited one person was to get a job with Corinne at his blog Justin the Librarian.

But collaboration goes much further than this, with the local community being welcomed through open doors. The 4th Floor Makerspace is an adaptable public space and is often rearranged and changed by the users to meet their needs.

Corinne believes we shouldn’t be afraid to lose control – collaboration gives back to the library in spades – a new library brand, courses and events led by users, innovation that is user driven.

Lastly, Corinne challenges us all, asking us why we bracket events and services in to age ranges. “Why not do something interesting and just see who turns up?” There is real value in having a mix of age groups collaborating.

There is a whole other blog about the event Constant Evolution where Corinne Hill spoke. This will come later, but I just had to get this down on ‘virtual’ paper.

Find out more about Corinne Hill.

Speaking Volumes – choosing a story

A tweet referring me to Speaking Volumes by Carnegie UK Trust made me cheer!

It is so important that we make people aware of what libraries do, the difference they make on a daily basis, the lives that are changed. Advocacy might come through a short conversation where a carefully chosen snippet of information is given to the right person. It can also be through much larger scale promotion about the impact of libraries.

Either way it’s the storytelling that is the critical factor and often I find, that with so much to say, it can be hard choose the most powerful and impactful story to relay.

So when I come across something from an external organisation that articulates perfectly what libraries are working hard to advocate I have to shout really loudly “Hooray!”

Carnegie UK Trust Speaking Volumes

Speaking Volumes is a really ‘neat’ advocacy toolkit that clearly outlines the impact libraries have on wellbeing through ‘cultural’, ‘social’, ‘education’ and ‘economic’ factors.

These messages are clearly laid out in a leaflet and poster which link back to databases of evidence – hundreds of stories demonstrating the four themes. And there is also an accompanying blog ‘Why are libraries good for you‘.

I sat in work and declared “I couldn’t have put it better myself” and that’s the best bit! This is an organisation looking in, collecting evidence, seeing impact and actively promoting the potential power of libraries. Speaking Volumes is a wonderful tool precisely because it was compiled by an external organisation.

Now, let’s get advocating …

Thank you @DigitaalSkills for the heads up and THANK YOU @CarnegieUKTrust

So, what are libraries about then?…

You’d be mistaken in thinking libraries are about books. Anyone could easily create a room full of books and brand it a library, but they would be missing the point entirely!

My belief is that libraries are about people. The reason libraries exist are to offer reading, learning and knowledge to local people.

A young reader building their confidence, a job seeker applying for work, a retired person becoming digitally literate, families spending time together, students finding knowledge and a place to study. The list goes on…

Those at the centre of the service are the staff and volunteers. These are the people who are valued by their communities. They are supporters, champions and inspirers. They join the dots to ensure libraries can be personalised to each individual who walks through the door.