Ready to Code: Connecting Youth to CS Opportunity through Libraries
by Linda Braun and Marijke Visser
“Beginning in January 2016, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) (with funding from Google K-12 Education Outreach) launched the Libraries Ready to Code project. This project marked the beginning of an investigation into the current nature and scope of computer science (CS) activities in public and school libraries for youth starting at the earliest ages through high school.
With 500,000 current job openings in the field of computer science, all 115,000 of the nation’s school and public libraries are crucial community partners to guarantee youth have skills essential to future employment and civic participation. To discover how libraries support computer science, coding, and computational thinking skills acquisition by youth, the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy initiated a year-long “Libraries Ready to Code” research project. Research identified priority areas including securing additional funding, professional development opportunities for library staff, and broader strategic partnerships. This report explores these priorities and highlights recommendations.
It is a crucial time for this investigation. Librarians know they have a unique role to play in ensuring young people of all ages participate in creating communities that are economically and socially robust. This report investigates how libraries can build on and strengthen that role. As noted in the 2016 Aspen Institute report, “Libraries in the Exponential Age,” “Library practices have traditionally been centered on the work of building and maintaining collections, and interactions with users and other institutions have been largely transactional although this is beginning to change. As the role of the library evolves beyond access and lending to providing a platform for learning, innovation and creativity, libraries need to think in dramatically different ways and develop new approaches to their work in line with this changing role.”
Key Conclusions (Spring 2016)
• Librarians should be confident in their preparedness to teach coding
• Library coding activities/programs should focus on building skills for the future
American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) advocates for public policy that supports and encourages the efforts of libraries to ensure access to electronic information resources as a means of upholding the public’s right to a free and open information society.