Starting a Coding Club at Your Library (4)

CodeDak logo

In this installment of CodeDak, we’re going to look at some robots, books, and games you can incorporate in your library’s coding club to help make computer programming more approachable, concrete, and fun. Even if you’re not running a coding club (though you should be!), everything mentioned here could still be used in a variety of engaging educational programs at your library. As a side note, the State Library intends to develop circulating kits around many of the interactive ‘bots below, though these aren’t anticipated to be in circulation until early 2018. We’ll provide more details as plans gel!

Robots and games, no computer required:

Circuit Maze: A single player game that teaches logic and sequential reasoning in an electrical engineering framework. Play pieces on the game board within the constraints of a challenge card, complete the circuit, and light things up: http://www.thinkfun.com/products/circuit-maze/

Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set: Tap instructions into the back of a plastic robot mouse to steer it through a maze you build yourself. Appropriate for even very tiny people. Good times! https://smile.amazon.com/Learning-Resources-Robot-Activity-Pieces/dp/B01A5YMCH4/

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Starting a Coding Club at Your Library (3)

CodeDak logo

We’ve been easing you into the idea of running a coding club at your library and participating in this year’s Hour of Code. If this is your first time checking in, you may wish to refer to the previous entries in this series.

What at minimum do you need to get started?

Time. You will want to hold regularly scheduled meetings of your club (or clubs!) and each meeting should be at least an hour long. During the summer and afterschool are optimal times, but weekends can work well, too.

Computers. Desktops or laptops; tablets will work handsomely for block coding (which is likely what you’ll start out with), but if you’re going to be working with older teens or eventually catering to more advanced coders, keyboards will become important.

Curriculum. The core curriculum we’re recommending is CS First. It’s completely free and targeted at ages 9-14. You can schedule it flexibly and it’s based around block coding, which makes it accessible and easy to accommodate. Plus it ties in really well with educational robots (coming soon from a State Library near you…)

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Starting a Coding Club at Your Library (2)

CodeDak logo

In the first installment, we introduced you to CodeDak, the State Library’s initiative to encourage and support running coding clubs in libraries throughout the state. We looked at the exigent need to provide safe, fun, and free opportunities for our youth to learn coding and computer science. Now we’re going to define some terms and detail the bare bones of what you need to get started. This guide is far from comprehensive, but fear not—there’s more to come in future issues of the Flickertale!

Coding: Also called programming, computer programming, or scripting, this is the practice of creating sets of machine-interpretable instructions that make a computer do your bidding. This is an incredibly powerful skillset, as computers are in almost everything, including phones, drones, refrigerators, and rubber duckies. The applications of coding range from creating games and apps, automating routine processes like sorting, making robots dance, performing complex math, modeling weather patterns, even creating art and music—anything a coder can dream of.

Programming Language: Just as people use a wide variety of languages to communicate with each other, there are many different languages for communicating with computers. Common ones taught in coding clubs include: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, Scratch, and Ruby on Rails.

Block Coding: A visual style of coding where instructions are represented as Continue reading

Starting a Coding Club at Your Library (1)

CodeDak logo

The Library Development Department of the North Dakota State Library has begun a new initiative focused on coding in libraries. It’s our goal to see libraries throughout the state participate in this year’s Hour of Code. More than that, we want to work with you to start a coding club in your library. Please, please, please don’t be frightened or rage quit your job. You’ve totally got this and we’ll be with you every step of the way. Before we get into the weeds, I wanted to provide a few reasons behind why we’re doing this:

  • Currently there are more than 500,000 computing jobs open nationwide (572 in North Dakota)
  • Last year, less than 43,000 computer science students graduated into the workforce (117 in North Dakota)
  • Computer science drives job growth and innovation throughout our economy and computing occupations are the number one source of all new wages in the U.S.
  • North Dakota has no K-12 computer science curriculum standards nor are North Dakota high schools required to offer computer science courses (though to their great credit, many do)
  • Learn more at: https://code.org/promote

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Library Grants – August 2017

Dollar sign

Photo by Larry used under CC BY SA 3.0

Doosan Discovery Grant

Application deadline: September 18, 2017

Doosan Bobcat is offering grants of $500 to accredited middle schools to support STEM Education in communities where it has operating plants or offices (re: Bismarck, Gwinner, Wahpeton, and West Fargo). Projects dealing with science, technology, engineering, or math will be considered. Projects msut be completed during the 2017-2018 academic year. Educators for grades 5-8 are encouraged to apply. Full details and application are available at: http://www.ndstem.org/2017-18-doosan-discovery-grants-available-to-grade-5-8-teachers/

Regional STEM Days for Students

Application deadline: December 29, 2017

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Get Your Library Ready for the Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, 2017, the Moon will pass in front of the sun and cast its shadow will across North America, resulting in a solar eclipse.

Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee, South Carolina, and parts of a few other states will be lucky enough to witness the total solar eclipse (a spectacle like this hasn’t been visible in the continental United States in just under 40 years). The rest of us will experience a partial solar eclipse (the moon will cover part of the sun).

Check out this cool video by NASA that predicts the trajectory of the total and partial solar eclipse:

 

Some are calling this the celestial event of the century. Don’t let your library miss out on this great opportunity!

Here are some great resources to get your library ready for the solar eclipse:

Book Lists – Sci Fi & Fantasy

Looking for a good science fiction/ fantasy book to read? Looking for a good science fiction/ fantasy book to recommend to your patrons? Looking for a good science fiction/ fantasy book to add to your collection? If so, here are some great lists for you!

Book Lists – 100 Must Reads

Looking for a good book to read? Looking for a good book to recommend to your patrons? Looking for a good book to add to your collection? If so, here are some great lists for you!

Weeding Resources

Weeding, also known as culling or de-selection, is a process of removing library materials form collections based on a certain criteria. Weeding is a necessary process that libraries continuously perform.

Weeding is vital because it saves shelf space (removes overstuffed shelves and creates room for new books), makes it easier to browse the collection and thus saves time, removes outdated material, makes the collection more appealing, etc.

Librarians are often hesitant to weed for many different reasons. Don’t let any hesitations get in the way of weeding; you don’t want your collection to suffer because of it. One such hesitation is the potential reaction from the public/ patrons. They may look at the process and say, “Why is the library throwing out books?” Transparency is needed to avoid any negative publicity. Get the word out before the project begins, and explain the process and why weeding is essential.

It is important for librarians and patrons alike to remember that libraries do not have unlimited space; and libraries are not museums or warehouses.

If you need guidance, THE definitive resource on weeding is CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries, which was created by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.  The Crew manual explains why weeding is important, it covers the weeding process, and it also offers weeding assistance on specific categories (nonfiction, fiction, graphic novels, periodicals, children’s books, young adult fiction, etc.).

Before starting a weeding project, you should make sure your library has an updated weeding policy. One is available on the State Library’s website (and in the resources below).

If you ever need assistance with weeding, don’t hesitate to contact your Library Development representative (and we’ll come running!).

Now that we’ve covered some weeding basics, it’s time to start weeding! Here are some great resources on weeding:

Videos/ Webinars/ Tutorials on Weeding:

Recommended Reading:

  • Allen, M. (2010). Weed ’em and reap: The art of weeding to avoid criticism. Library Media Connection. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/V2Nx0P
  • Chant, I. (2015). The art of weeding: Collection management. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2sqVUqc
  • Vnuk, R. (2016). Weeding without worry: Transparency and communication help ease weeding woes. American Libraries. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1Zi73Rm

What to Do with Weeded Books:

Factors for Weeding:

  • Consider things like age, last circulation date, number of circulations, condition, multiple copies, etc.
  • Also, you can use the acronym MUSTIE – Misleading, Ugly, Superseded, Trivial, Irrelevant, and Elsewhere (more information on MUSTIE can be found in the Crew manual)

Inspiring Quotes on Weeding:

  • “A good library collection is like a good haircut. It’s not what you cut–it’s what you leave.” – Anne Felix (CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries)
  • “…it is better to have worthless books in the trash than have trash on your shelves.” – Melissa Allen (Weed ‘Em and Reap: The Art of Weeding to Avoid Criticism)
  • “Overflowing shelves give an overall impression of chaos and make it harder for people to fine the resources they really need.” – Melissa Allen (Weed ‘Em and Reap: The Art of Weeding to Avoid Criticism)
  • “…lack of funds to replace outdated or worn items is never an excuse for not weeding.” – Jeanette Larson (CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries)
  • “Try to avoid a situation where weeding is a massive project that is done once in ten years requiring you to weed hundreds of items. It is much better to make weeding an ongoing process…” – Melissa Allen (Weed ‘Em and Reap: The Art of Weeding to Avoid Criticism)
  • “Patrons lose patience trying to find items that are crammed onto overcrowded shelves.” – CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries
  • “Circulation can be increased by simply making the shelves look more attractive and user-friendly, even if there are actually fewer books.” – CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries

Readers Advisory Resources

Readers Advisory is a service libraries offer that includes helping readers locate materials through recommendations, book lists, displays, social networking, and other means. Basically, readers advisory means recommending books to patrons.

All libraries provide readers advisory services whether they realize it or not. It can be done “informally” (by verbally recommending books to patrons) and “formally” (by using displays and handouts).

If your library has recommended items to patrons either “formally” or “informally,” your library has done readers advisory. (Hint: remember this when filling out your library’s annual report)

If you would like to expand your library’s readers advisory services or if you would like to learn more about this service, here are some great resources:

Resources specifically for teens/ young adults: