Tabitha Witherick presented the opening session at this year’s CILIP SW Members’ Day. Drawing upon her role as Service Manager (Development) at Somerset Libraries, she provided a stimulating overview of the amazing range of digital initiatives taking place in public and academic libraries.
Tabitha has taken an extensive look at digital innovations in a variety of contexts and has been promoting many of the more eye-catching and user-friendly examples for implementation locally. ‘I see my role as very much a change maker’, says Tabitha, reflecting on her work in introducing new digital technologies in Somerset Libraries.
Tabitha shared many of her favourite initiatives in order to disseminate good practice for all ages across the region. These resources underpin the principle that ‘learning in informal environments reinforces what students do in school’. Here are ten of the initiatives and resources that have been taken up to support informal education in libraries:
Shift Happens : A US-based online forum for supporting digital initiatives in education.
Scratch : An online tool for 9-11 year olds (and beyond!) to learn basic coding skills coding through collaborative learning.
Kano – Create don’t consume : A build your own computer system set to be “as easy as Lego” to assemble. See video. Assemble like Lego.
Similarly, proprietary Lego Education Wedo kit enables children to use play products to informally develop their skills in computing and construction.
Library makerspaces such as the Fablab in Exeter Library. This is a designated area in the public library dedicated to making a variety of hardware and open-source software available for promoting creative projects and digital development. The Fablab was the first initiative of its kind in the UK, inspired by the Chattanooga Public Library 4th Floor project.
Another local resource is the Ideas Garage and Coding Club set up for 11-17 year olds at Chepstow Library in Monmouthshire.
The Carnegie Library Lab is “a programme created by the Carnegie UK Trust to support and develop innovation and leadership in the public library sector”.
There are also a number of mobile maker carts being developed for those without access to a physical library space. These may have great potential for supporting the development of digital skills in rural districts.
Apps for Good is a business-sponsored initiative set up to encourage students to use, disseminate and create apps to enhance their digital education.
Geek Week was the first event of its kind held in West Sussex Libraries in 2015. This was a series of free workshops held in libraries across the county to “celebrate science, games, the future of reading and all things tech”.
For many more inspiring ideas, gadgets and digital adventures, visit Tabitha Witherick’s own blog, Library Tea Party.
Tabitha Wetherick presenting at the first session of the CILIPSW Members’ Day