“If I had a nickel for every  snarky comment about libraries being irrelevant since the internet…”

It’s probably not a surprise that libraries are under pressure. Sure, the cocktail party comments are annoying. But if the politicians with the purse strings think of the library as a repository for dusty books that everyone has already downloaded to their Kindles, then we have a problem.

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Of course, those of us who live and breathe libraries know the truth – the library is transforming to be much more than paper books. Makerspaces, digital resources, circulating board games and croquet sets and everything else you can imagine. My home library filled the drawers of an old card catalog with seed packets that you can take home and grow!

Even with these innovations, libraries face an uphill battle to convince decision-makers and the public that they are more relevant than ever. Coding programs are the perfect way to do it! Here are three reasons why coding programs are exactly what libraries need:

  1. Coding is a 21st century storytime. You may have heard the term “digital literacy,” or the ability to use technology to succeed in life. The library has been helping generations of young people move toward literacy through fun, engaging, positive stories. Now the library can prepare them for success in the digital age with fun, engaging, positive coding activities. (Note: This does not mean storytime should stop!)
  2. Coding brings a new audience to the library. Many of the parents dropping off kids at my code club make comments about having been absent from the library for years. They are pleasantly surprised when they see a high-energy group of kids creating video games and websites.
  3. Coding attracts all the right attention. Politicians of all political persuasions are talking about the importance of technical training. Even President Obama mentioned coding for kids in the first two minutes of his 2016 State of the Union speech. Coding programs provide the perfect photo ops with the mayor or county supervisor or governor, and that means the whole world sees your library as modern, relevant and essential.

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Image: Code.org

Libraries are changing rapidly. If you’re reading this post, you are likely playing a major role in that transformation. As we evolve perceptions from “libraries are obsolete” to “libraries are critical to 21st century society,” we need a proven way to attract new audiences and win over new supporters. Coding is the perfect solution, and the timing couldn’t be better!