Two recent articles in American Libraries magazine – “Get Cracking on Code” (March/April 2015) and “Learning to Code” (May 2015) caught my attention and got me thinking about how learning to write code could help me in my job as a librarian. After reading these articles and doing some research I discovered that libraries are helping their patrons to learn how to code and find new careers. Public libraries, such as the Louisville (Ky.) Free Public Library (LFPL), featured in “Get Cracking on Code,” are offering coding classes, often for free. At LFPL, their program is the result of a partnership between various government and non-profit agencies. By collaborating, libraries can help train people for high-tech jobs in their own communities. University libraries are also offering code courses, including full-on coding boot camps taught as weekend-long workshops, like those offered to graduate and post-graduate students at Stanford University.
Many public libraries have been offering basic computer courses for years. Now that coding has emerged as the newest must-have technology skill, public libraries are adding coding courses as well. If you have any doubt that coding is the next big thing in technology, here is some proof. Preschoolers are learning to code now. After conducting four successful preschool computer courses at the Tidewater Community College/City of Virginia Beach Joint-Use Library, their technology librarian is ready to offer coding courses next and is also planning a preschool code club. You can also read what the experts are saying at Code.org. The consensus is that no matter what field you’re in, knowing how to code is an asset.
Interest in learning to code is also growing among librarians, and as Andromeda Yelton reports in “Learning to Code,” several recent library conferences have featured programming tutorials or “hackathons.” I would love to attend one of these hackathons with other library professionals and am putting that on my to-do list. Learning to write and read code is an exciting prospect for librarians on many levels. Libraries that want to offer coding courses can utilize their own staff to help with the training if they are already skilled at understanding code. And other opportunities are now in reach for librarians that know how to write code. Many of us are always looking to learn new skills and make ourselves more marketable so coding may be the stepping stone we need to land that new position or even discover a new career.
Below are a few resources for learning to code and links to coding communities (but there are several others):
- Codecademy http://www.codecademy.com/
- Coursera https://www.coursera.org/category/cs-programming
- Stack Overflow http://stackoverflow.com/
- Code4Lib listserv / Wiki/ IRC (#code4lib on Freenode) https://listserv.nd.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A0=code4lib
Library Code Year IG (ALCTS/ LITA ): http://connect.ala.org/node/167971