Two years ago, I walked into a computer lab filled with 8-13 year olds and stood awkwardly in the front of the room. I gave them a URL and encouraged them to read, tinker and work through tutorials, first steps on the path to teaching themselves to code in javascript.

It was a disaster.

Some of the kids couldn’t log into Windows. Others needed help finding and using an internet browser. Most of them struggled with javascript syntax, programming logic, or both. None of them had fun, or at least that’s how I perceived it from my squirming position in front.

Somehow, the kids came back. More kids showed up, and today we see around 50 each week, happily teaching themselves to code. We learned a lot, we changed a lot, but we made it, and in the process we have impacted hundreds of lives.

Today, librarians and staff all over the country are launching coding programs. Often, they feel unqualified, resource-constrained, or otherwise overwhelmed by the idea. Recently, I had the privilege of presenting a workshop about Code Club to a group of 42 librarians from all over the State of Arizona. These remarkable men and women spend their waking hours with kids, tweens, and teens, providing consistent support and motivation for young learners.

Are they professional software developers, experts in technology, or otherwise “qualified” to teach computer programming? No.

Are they capable of running a successful Code Club? YES!!

Code Club is all about self-guided learning, trial and error, and making cool stuff. There is no wrong answer as we find our way through the sometimes daunting world of getting computers to do what we want. All you have to do is show up and try. Between your own research, tinkering, and learning from other people, you will eventually gain competence in coding. That’s empowering, and it just gets more fun.

If you are thinking about coding at your library and wondering if you can do it, the answer is a resounding “Yes you can!” The kids in your community need access to these skills, and you can meet this need in a big way.

Take a look at these comments, taken from the feedback survey after the workshop.

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My favorite thing about working with librarians is the “let’s try it” attitude, and that came through loud and clear in these comments. I am excited to work with these brave souls as they launch Code Clubs at their libraries in the coming weeks.