Equipping librarians to code: ALA, Google launch ready to code university pilot program

For Immediate Release
Tue, 01/10/2017

Contact:

Shawnda K. Hines
Press Officer
Washington Office
2026288410

WASHINGTON - Today, the American Library Association (ALA) and Google, Inc., announced a call for Library and Information Science (LIS) faculty to participate in Phase Two of the Libraries Ready to Code project. This work will culminate in graduate level course models that equip MLIS students to deliver coding programs through public and school libraries and foster computational thinking skills among the nation’s youth.

“Phase One of Ready to Code explored what libraries already do to expose youth to opportunities through computer science (CS) learning and promote the newest essential literacy –computational thinking (CT),” said ALA President Julie Todaro. “Without the ability to analyze and formulate problems and express solutions through CT, young people are severely limited in their college and career options, which hinders our global competitiveness.

“More and more librarians are offering coding activities that cultivate computational thinking skills,” she continued, “and we have a critical need for more graduate-level curriculum dedicated to teaching LIS students how to design and implement these innovative programs. Ready to Code 2 will address this deficiency and build capacity of pre-service and in-service librarians to move CT activities forward.”

Ready to Code 2 is based on findings of Phase One, which suggested that the primary need for librarians is to develop deeper coding program facilitation skills grounded in computational thinking design and Ready to Code concepts laid out in the report Increasing CS Opportunities for Young People, released on January 6. The new project will consist of a faculty cohort of seven participants selected by the project team that will redesign their current technology/media courses based on Ready to Code concepts and then pilot the redesigned courses at their institutions. Ready to Code Faculty Fellows will provide feedback throughout the project and assess their course outcomes, which will be synthesized and form the basis of course models to be disseminated nationally.

“LIS faculty need to re-envision our approach to teaching technology and media courses because we bear the responsibility of educating the next generation of children, teen, and youth librarians,” said Mega Subramaniam, a principal investigator of the project, Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Information Policy and Access Center at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies. “Ready to Code 2 will transform current MLIS youth course offerings and produce course models that will prepare librarians to foster the development of computational thinking among youth, and to integrate coding programs seamlessly – bringing us all closer to the goal of having all libraries ready to code.” 

The Ready to Code 2 project team includes Dr. Mega Subramaniam; Marijke Visser, co-principal investigator and Associate Director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP); Linda Braun, Learning Consultant, LEO: Librarians and Educators Online; and Dr. Alan S. Inouye, Director, OITP. OITP Youth and Technology Fellow Christopher Harris will provide overall guidance throughout the project. The team is inviting applicants who are full-time faculty members at ALA-accredited graduate schools of LIS and graduate schools that provide school library certification programs in the United States. Applicants must be teaching technology/media courses in Fall 2017 tailored for pre-service library staff who plan on working with children and teens. Selected Faculty Fellows will receive a stipend of $1,500. Information about eligibility requirements and a full application can be found here.

“Libraries play a vital role in our communities, and Google is proud to build on our partnership with ALA," noted Hai Hong, who leads US outreach on Google's K-12 Education team. “We're excited to double down on the findings of Ready to Code 1 by equipping librarians with the knowledge and skills to cultivate computational thinking and coding skills in our youth. Given the ubiquity of technology and the half-a-million unfilled tech jobs in the country, we need to ensure that all youth understand the world around them and have the opportunity to develop the essential skills that employers – and our nation's economy – require.”