This week our Head of Policy & Projects Gillian Daly talks about SLIC’s success at introducing code clubs in libraries throughout Scotland and what the digital future holds.  

 

Around a year ago, SLIC was fortunate enough to receive a Digital Xtra award of £47,000 to introduce code clubs for young people in public libraries across Scotland. Our project aimed to do this by upskilling library staff to equip them with the skill and confidence to deliver coding sessions to young people in their communities.

Over the course of the project, working with Code Club Scotland, we aimed to ensure provision for coding instruction in all 32 library services in Scotland. 

To help us along the way, we appointed two Project Officers on secondment from public library services to travel the land and deliver training to library staff. The training programme primarily focused on Scratch - a visual computer programming language ideally suited for young people and anyone else taking their first steps in coding. Training also covered Python, HTML and CSS for the more adventurous participants.

Code Club Success

Around 150 library staff across 31 library services took part in the training programme and, shortly after, introduced Code Clubs within their services. The enthusiasm for the project was palpable at the training sessions and evident in the outcome. Rather than the anticipated 31 clubs, we had 74 by the end of the first phase and now have more than 50 additional locations set to join the Code Club map over the summer.

The library code clubs are open to young people aged 9-13 and are free to attend. We use the Code Club model which guides young people through a series of mini projects to create computer games and animations based around fun themes like Lost in Space and Ghostbusters.

Libraries have also been successful in tackling the gender bias that surrounds computer science activities, with over one third of all participants being girls. The project has been a huge success and points to libraries' capacity - and enthusiasm! - for supporting young people to develop their digital skills.

Extending the Core Offer

In the coming months we're looking to extend the library offer even further, with the overall aim being code clubs in every branch as part of the core library offer. We also want to extend the scope of the clubs to cover a wider age range and are excited to get working with a range of new partners to make this a reality.

In the meantime, we will be taking part in the InsomniaXResonate gaming festival in Glasgow next week to promote the work of libraries in supporting digital skills and we'll be encouraging our participants to grab a grown-up as part of National Coding Week in September!