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Getting Colleagues on Board with Coding

Creating Coding Buy-in

If your library is considering offering coding programs to the public, your staff or board may express mixed feelings. Most folks do not have experience with computer programming, which makes it hard to see why and how coding is part of public library service. In addition, your library might need to do some work getting other stakeholders on board. If you wish to influence your library’s internal or external community about coding, consider offering a hands-on coding activity to show how intuitive it can be. Taking part in a 15-30 minute coding activity can help make coding less abstract more understandable. See also Coding Talking Points

Coding as Staff/Board Member Professional Development

Library Staff
For any library, making sure the library director understands the importance of all staff learning and understanding the library's role in coding is the first "buy-in" necessary. Then it's a matter of allowing time and repeated opportunity for exposure. Can everyone on staff communicate the "why" your library is coding?

In terms of staff development activities, your options will greatly depend on the size of your library and established staff involvement of programs. See "Getting Your Feet Wet" under Basic Concepts of Coding for ideas.

For a larger library that has access to equipment, devices with apps, and possibly coding gadgets, training might take place in an open house session. Consider planning this style of event with a beginning session that gives an overview of all the resources that are available for staff to try. During the event, plan stations to be set up with the equipment and instructions necessary so that any staff member can begin the activity on their own. For libraries without lots of equipment or space, consider hosting a smaller training with a single activity, or an unplugged activity that does not need access to technology. Or, consider pooling your resources with libraries in your system for a multi-library staff training event.

Library Board
Offering short coding activities can be an excellent way to encourage board members to take a more active role in promoting library programs. Giving board members 15 minutes to work on an activity in the Scratch Jr. app on library iPads, or to participate in an unplugged activity such as Table Top Coding using a checkerboard can help build board comradery while also making a case for coding and libraries.

Coding as Cross-Community Professional Development

Coding education is needed by all members of the workforce. Consider asking if community partner organizations and businesses would like to offer their staff coding training during a workshop program, or as a short activity integrated in their existing training. This training could be hosted by the public library, and further community connections while promoting the library's coding resources. See "Why Is Coding a Needed Skill?" and "Why Should We Partner with the Library on Coding?" under Coding Talking Points

The public library could organize different events and challenges, depending on how involved your community partners wish to be in coding education for their staff professional development. One idea is for the library to organize monthly coding challenge for staff, or to allow businesses to borrow coding equipment for a limited amount of time for staff to have access to during breaks in the workday.

Talk with staff at your library system to find out what other libraries may have tried, or might be willing to try in tandem with your local efforts. Remember, creativity and collaboration are two key concepts of coding!

For questions about this information, contact Tessa Michaelson Schmidt (608) 267-5077