As a maker, I love nimble. Nimble means able to move fast. The state of Delaware was nimble when it was the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Today, the state is moving fast to bring making and creativity to its public libraries.
I noticed on Twitter that the person spearheading this is Sarena Fletcher, an administrative librarian for Delaware Division of Libraries. I caught up with Sarena recently to hear her story, recorded in this short audio interview on YouTube.
I loved hearing from Sarena how the Delaware libraries are working in partnership with the Barrel of Makers makerspace to teach Scratch computer programming classes at the libraries. The only other makerspace I know of that's partnering with a public library is the Santa Barbara Makerspace in California.
Q&A with Barrel of Makers
I also asked Jessi Taylor and Brad J. Glassco at the Barrel of Makers a few questions about this partnership.
PS: How was this partnership first formed?
Sarena, who, as I understand it, is responsible for spearheading STEM programming in local [Delaware] libraries, came to the first class Barrel of Makers ever offered. Since then, Barrel of Makers and Delaware libraries have worked closely together to deliver programming throughout the state.
PS: Was is difficult to find volunteer Scratch trainers [Scratch is a programming language for kids developed by MIT within your makerspace?
Finding people who would like to teach Scratch is the easy part. Anyone who sits down with it for a few minutes learns how much fun they can have. This excitement normally leads them to want to show more people. The tricky part is dealing with people's schedules. That is the bigger problem.
PS: How many volunteer Scratch trainers do you currently have?
Right now we have 10 volunteers, but that number keeps growing.
PS: Are any of the Scratch trainers older youth themselves?
Not currently, but we have had older youth help out at some classes.
PS: Is Scratch also taught within the makerspace?
We did an Intro to Scratch class in our current (temporary) space. However, students needed to bring their own laptops, whereas they are provided in the libraries. We don't have any upcoming classes in the schedule, but that can always change.
PS: Has your outreach to the public via the libraries benefited your makerspace (in terms of bringing in visitors, members, donated equipment, etc.)?
Yes, we make sure to always have our latest schedule available.
PS: Has there been any coordination with schools in Delaware who are also teaching Scratch?
Keep an Eye on Delaware
If the Delaware libraries remain nimble, they will continue innovating. Whatever successes they encounter will be an inspiration and impetus to public libraries around the world. Keep your eye on Delaware. Its motto is "The First State." I consider it "The Nimble State."
If you live in Delaware and would like to support making in Delaware libraries, contact Sarena Fletcher at sarena.fletcher [at] state [dot] de [dot] us. She is particularly interested in hearing from new, emerging makerspaces.
More on Making
- Playing and Making at Minot Public Library
- Your Library Can Support Makers Without Having a Makerspace
- Raspberry Pi for Educators and Librarians
- Of Makerspaces and Media Labs: Tales from Two Small Libraries