Monday, April 20, 2015

Libraries and Code

"Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer...because it teaches you how to think." - Steve Jobs

More and more librarians are taking an interest in learning how to code, programming new things, and to help their community understand the importance of code. This is not much different than the Maker movement, and in fact falls in the category of making and creating something. Libraries are becoming places for the community not only to consume content, but to create content.

HTML color text on computer screen
HTML on computer screen. Image courtesy of Pixabay.
Code can be intimidating for those that have never played with it. Yes, play. Often the biggest obstacle is trying something unknown for the first time, and the best way to conquer this is to play with it. But like anything, once you begin playing and working with it, it becomes more familiar, and the applications it has starts to present itself.
"It's really not unlike playing an instrument or playing a sport. It starts out being very intimidating, but you start to get the hang of it." - Drew Houston, creator of Dropbox
It's not just the ability to create or tweak an online tool for the library, or the ability to teach others how to do something, but it can also change how someone approaches a problem and communicates with others. One of the ILEAD USA-Wisconsin teams, WisCode Literati chose coding as their community need to help find answers to many different types of problems.

The Division for Libraries and Technology at the Department of Public Instruction is looking to focus on learning code and programming in public libraries. Patrons of all ages can benefit from attending classes and learning more about code. The first phase will look to increase awareness of the whys and hows of coding in the public library community and demonstrate the role of public libraries in learning and technology. Learning code is not a necessity for all library staff, but taking an interest and learning about it, and then sharing it with your community may benefit them. This initiative will be for all people of all ages: a new form of literacy, a new skill to learn in an area that has constant jobs for those that know it. And then back to its most fundamental use: to build, create, and show something that originated in your mind. As Andromeda Yeltin, a librarian who teaches code to others stated, "'Empowerment' is a cliche but that is quite literally what learning code gives you: the power to see and change more of your world."

For those interested in reading more on libraries and programming, ALA Tech Source has made available their most recent online issue titled Coding for Librarians.

Written by:
Ryan Claringbole, Public Library Development Team