Finding Someone to Meet Your Need
If you are looking for a lengthy list of coding experts in Wisconsin, it doesn’t exist. There are as many ways to code as there are ways to identify as a coder! For example, someone might use programming language Python to create 3D animation in their day job, while someone else might not be fluent in coding script, but adept at teaching coding concepts to kids.
Who you are searching for depends on how you intend to use their expertise. Before you start your search, determine your need; e.g., help running coding activities for patrons, speaking to an audience about coding as a workforce skill, volunteering at an Hour of Code event, or sitting on a panel of local software developers.
Helpful communication tips to consider when contacting a potential partner:
Be sensitive to the possibility that the person you are speaking with may have limited understanding of coding, even if coding is an integral part of their organization’s mission. Be prepared to explain what coding is and why your library is interested in offering it to your community. Even saying something similar to, “I am just learning what coding is, and what it means. Do you have a few moments to talk with me about this?” can help open up dialogue on both sides as you educate one another. Or, “We are interested in offering new technology to our patrons. Do you know of any organizations or instructors that are doing things in software and development?” might be appropriate if you are speaking to someone who understands coding and is highly aware of what resources may be available.
See also Coding Talking Points.
Google and Word of Mouth
It might be a challenge to identify coding enthusiasts in your community. It may be that coders identify by search terms you haven't tried, such as "software developer" or "HTML editor." You might have to try a larger geographical area, and/or use the original social networking tool--word of mouth. You might have more luck asking for people who can teach the concepts of algorithms versus seeking a Silicon Valley techie in your zip code.
The following youth organizations have established coding projects and programs, and may be ideal places to initiate contacts:
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts: Multiple councils are organized around the state without a central website. Ask in your community which council serves your area to find local and regional contacts.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America: Located in many municipalities, these clubs offer youth a range of experiences. Through a partnership with Microsoft, the organization has a focus on computer science.
4-H: Local offices are located in each county in Wisconsin.
Girls Who Code: A national project with multiple locations in Wisconsin.
The following institutions of higher learning have established coding projects and programs, and may be ideal places to initiate contacts:
University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Technical Colleges- Computer Science professors, or students, may be willing to help with programming, or serve as mentors during programs. Don't forget about your local UW Extension office!
Search tip: Try narrowing your search to a specific campus/office and include the words "computer science" or "computing."
The following national organizations may be able to provide a professional peer network to ask questions, plan programs, and see what is offered nationally in coding:
Coder Dojo: This national organization has no set curriculum, so anything you have planned for your library will work. To find out if there are volunteers near you who can help set up an event, or lend advice for coding programs, visit their website at https://coderdojo.com/.
Girls Who Code: A national organization dedicated to breaking the gender gap in coding, and provide a safe and creative place for girl coders. Their website has information to find out if there is a club near you. If you would like to start a club at your library, their website has an application process, and once accepted, they will send the curriculum to you. (Also listed in Youth Organizations above).