STEM

The Latest Library Tech Trends for 2019 from the LITA Top Tech Trends Committee

The LITA Top Tech Trends Committee panel of library technology experts presenting at the ALA conference in Washington, D.C.

The latest LITA Top Tech Trends Committee put together a diverse panel of library technology experts to talk about trends and advances in library technology at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The panelists discussed artificial intelligence, network security, online news literacy, data mining and curation, cloud computing, coding for the very young, girls in STEM, cutting-edge humanities scholarship, and data literacy education. Here are the panelists and the emerging trends.

How to Bring Digital Literacy to Your Library with Coding

Girls Who Code Club at Mountain View Library

Over the last few years the library world has been buzzing about programming in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and coding, the new digital literacy. For many librarians like myself, who come from a humanities background and are used to planning programming around books and literature, this new digital literacy can seem daunting. Add in the fact that many celebrated STEM and coding programs are backed by large budgets, multi-system libraries, and lots of staff, the idea of putting together a meaningful program at your own library can seem almost impossible!

However, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need a big budget and oodles of staff to bring computer science to your community. You just need Girls Who Code.

The Sweet Sound of Music and STEM at the Library

Making Music at the Ramona Library

There's that pesky stereotype about the library: it's a quiet, noise-free place and any music, noise, or exuberance will be met with a harsh-faced librarian saying "SHHHHHH." We know this isn't true, however, and sometimes learning needs to be a little noisy. And in the case of the Ramona Community Library and the Borrego Springs Library in San Diego County, sometimes learning means making music. 

The Connection Between Learning and Music

Music is actually a pretty normal thing in the library for babies and toddlers. A lot of story-time programs include a few songs at the beginning or the end of the story. There are also dedicated music-making programs for the younger set as well.

Music can teach early learners how to rhyme, new vocabulary words, and numeracy, and improve basic communication skills. A study from the Music-Science Lab at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev shows that young children who played hand-clapping song games are more social, write better, and have better cognitive abilities.

Both the Ramona and Borrego Springs libraries go beyond traditional early childhood programming. The library also offers music programs for older demographics: tweens, teens and sometimes even adults. At the California Library Association's conference, Michael Voss discussed how teaching teens to play music has increased self-esteem and confidence, teaches math, and improves teamwork skills.   

How La Jolla Public Library Supports the “S” in STEM

At this year's California Library Association's conference in gorgeous Pasadena, I attended a lot of STEM-related (Science Technology Engineering and Math) sessions: STEM for kids, STEM for adults, STEM for babies! And lately, there's been an "R" thrown in for reading and an "A" thrown in for Art. I saw some really exciting and creative examples of STE(A)M programs, from using music to teach math, to science-based art projects.

But the presentation I got the most excited (and envious) about was about the La Jolla/Riford Library's Life Science Collaboratory program. After visiting the La Jolla/Riford Library, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said, "The lab is a game changer for the city. This is the first of its kind, but probably not the last."

Located in the city of San Diego, the La Jolla/Riford Library is a neighbor to numerous biotechnology companies and research institutes, such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and the Human BioMolecular Research Institute, just to name a few.  Therefore, incorporating biology, life sciences, and biotechnology into library programming seems like a natural fit. It also works quite nicely with the La Jolla Library's wonderful statement on its website:

"Libraries are like schools, as they give people of all ages access to lifelong learning."

Creating Children's Story Animations Using Inkscape and Animatron

I'm a big fan of the Inkscape vector graphics program, which is a no-cost equivalent of Adobe Illustrator and runs on all major computer platforms (Linux, Macintosh, and Windows). Back in 2007, I created a short promotional video showing the range of graphics that people can make using Inkscape.

Inkscape, when paired with Animatron (a freemium HTML5 online animation tool), can be used for creating narrated, animated children's stories. These tools might also be used to create multimedia motion graphics stories for libraries, nonprofits, foundations, government agencies, and more.

MathAndCoding Turns the Library Into a Coding Classroom (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, we introduced MathAndCoding, a nonprofit that offers teen-led programming classes for children in public libraries in the Silicon Valley area. In part 2, we offer a librarian's perspective as the host for this program.

As the first librarian to host it, Karin Bricker, library manager for youth and outreach services at Mountain View Public Library, had to overcome some initial skepticism. "They [Vineet Kosaraju and Nikhil Cheerla] are certainly capable, well-meaning kids. But they are still kids. So there was some initial back and forth early on in regards to curriculum."  

Bay Area Teens Share the Love of Coding (Part 1)

On a balmy Californian Saturday afternoon, 14 kids, 8 boys and 6 girls, are figuring out the profit and loss of a lemonade stand. There's no real money involved, nor is it a real lemonade stand. And they're doing this using the programming language Java on their laptops.

With lines of code projected on a screen, these children listen intently in a conference room at the Mountain View Public Library, as part of a four-week course on programming. It's free to anyone who wants to attend, regardless of where they live. 

Kids learning how to code at the library

Think Outside the Box When it Comes to Teen STE(A)M Programs

How can you organize STE(A)M (Science Technology Engineering [Art] Math) programs for teens — and actually have them show up? At our May webinar, Teens and Tech: Creating Successful STEM Programs in Libraries, we invited three librarians to share practical planning tips and programming ideas.

  • Heather Booth and Jacquie Christen (Robot Test Kitchen) shared ideas for engaging teen technology programs that any size library can do.
  • Amanda Allpress (Shasta Public Libraries) spoke about a successful graphic design workshop for teens that went beyond the technology to also explore creativity and business.

In addition to programming advice and ideas, our speakers shared some of their programs' shortcomings and what they learned from them. If you're looking to try something new when it comes to teen programming, you'll discover some new ideas to put into action.

Library helps local youth learn to design video games

Last fall we wrote about the Independence (KS) Public Library and the Scratch programming classes they were offering for kids ages 8-12. Last Tuesday, the library once again provided its community with an opportunity to learn to be digital creators. They hosted a 4 hour video game design workshop. Game industry pros from E-Line Media! traveled to the small town to provide a workshop for 30 middle and high school students.  The event was made possible because of the National STEM Video Game Challenge and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.