As an international ambassador for libraries, who gets the opportunity to visit and explore many different public libraries across the world I am constantly surprised and amazed by the inventive ways that libraries are responding to the needs of individuals and communities in our networked society. During my recent travels across Europe visiting libraries for the Public Libraries 2020 Tour, commissioned by the Reading & Writing Foundation, I once again was overwhelmed by the important role libraries play in their communities and how they really change people’s lives.
Based on my experiences I would like to give two considerations as you develop the new services mentioned in this report.
Firstly, Nesta’s report Open Dataset of UK Makerspaces 2015 – A User’s Guide shows that the most important reason to come to makerspaces is to socialize. People are looking for face to face contact and an experience in a safe environment where learning is FUN! The people are the real collection and the service that libraries provide are a starting point for a conversation.
Secondly, I would urge you to think about the impact of these new developments on the role and the work of library staff. As David Lankes says: ‘librarians can help communities and individuals to reach larger goals.’ But what qualities do these librarians need to have? I see librarians as PR people for knowledge, whose job it is to curate curiosity. Creative collaborators in institutions for learning, who are not going to be measured by how well they do themselves, but by how well they create space for others to be successful.
This Digital Making Kit will help you to take advantage of new opportunities and respond to new challenges. It is a great introduction and a very useful tool to help you step into this wonderful new world of libraries and librarianship. The process is about trying and learning and sometimes making mistakes. We have to listen to our users and never forget to have fun and to remember that libraries will always be about Keeping stories, sharing stories and making stories.
Good luck and get making!
This Digital Making Kit has been commissioned by and developed for the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) and the Association of Senior Childrens and Education Librarians (ASCEL) to support the launch of the Universal Learning Offer, which is available in all public library services across England. It is intended to:
- Support the roll out of digital making activities in library services across England,
- Demonstrate the important role that libraries can play in learning, creativity and the development of new skills in our communities
- Offer public library services ideas for how to develop their Learning Offer in a way that is relevant to the interests and needs of children, young people and families.
What is digital making?
Nesta has developed a definition of digital making as: “learning about technology through making with it”. This can include computer programming (coding), designing and making 3D objects, building robots and many other creative activities.
Why is it important?
In their recent report, Young Digital Makers, Nesta emphasises the importance of digital making, as distinct from simply using digital devices, because it helps people understand how digital technology works. The evidence suggests that there is a need for increased digital making skills in our country and for these skills to be continually updated:
- A recent House of Lords report warns that the UK could be left behind in terms of our digital skills capabilities
- The loss to the UK economy because of this lack of skills has been estimated at £2 billion
- 90 per cent of new jobs require digital know–how
- Nesta predict that there will be 1 million additional creative jobs over the next 10 years, the majority requiring the creative manipulation of technology
- Over 60% of teachers who responded to a recent Nesta survey reported that their students did not currently receive enough teaching time to achieve expected levels of ICT and coding skills in the new curriculum
- 82% of the 10 million school-age young people want to engage in digital making activities but Nesta have only been able to map opportunities for 130,000 of those to engage in digital making outside of school
- Nearly 2/3 of parents and carers say that they are also interested in digital making themselves
- Digital making is way of teaching youth problem solving, logical thinking, communication skills and teamwork as well as responding to the current skills shortage
What’s the relevance of digital making to libraries?
Nesta has called on organisations to capitalise on and develop the widespread interest and enthusiasm in digital making among parents, carers, children and young people. They also state that face-to-face interactions are very important in introducing children and young people to digital making and engaging them in practical tasks.
Public libraries are ideally placed to support digital making for families, children and young people. They are able to provide a safe space in communities where children and young people can get access to the digital making opportunities they need to develop their creativity and skills for the 21st Century. A high quality digital making offer will help to position library services as key delivery partners for developing crucial new skills in our society.
The ASCEL website hosts a report by Shared Intelligence on children’s digital needs and libraries. This report contains research evidence from a programme of qualitative research with children, young people and their carers as well as a number of case studies of cultural organisations’ innovative digital work with children and a trends analysis of future developments in digital technology and education.
About Code Green: Digital Making Kit
This Digital Making Kit is for library staff working in a public library setting to use to help you develop your enhanced learning activities to complement the Universal Learning Offer.
It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all the digital making activities that libraries can undertake with children, young people and families. It is intended to give you ideas and practical advice on how to start new learning and making activities in your library service.
The Digital Making Kit has 7 main chapters about different digital making activities you can do. It starts with simple activities and moves on to more advanced ones. Each chapter has:
- a list of resources required to get started
- person specifications for activity leaders
- signposting to useful organisations and resources
- a case study for where this activity has already been done in a library
There are 5 “Top Tips” chapters that focus on critical success factors for building your digital making offer. These are:
- targeting your offer for different audiences and being inclusive
- recruiting volunteers
- marketing your activities effectively
- community engagement
- evolving your offer
You can find out more about the Universal Learning Offer on the SCL website, which also includes useful advocacy materials to make the case for learning activities in libraries.
It is also possible to engage with the ASCEL community and share your digital making projects and challenges via the ASCELALL email list. Please get in touch with ASCEL via their website if you wish to find out more about this.