I recently wrote an article for Public Libraries Online on how the Berkeley Public Library (BPL) in California is making coding more accessible to its community through free workshops. The volunteer who is leading these classes is Sameer Siruguri. He is actually a former TechSouper and had reached out to the TechSoup for Libraries team to see if other libraries have done similar programming.
Tech + Volunteers = Library Success!
The focus of my story was the coding programs for adults (inspired by the excellent Library Journal piece, How to Talk Code: Digital Literacy). But I thought this was also a wonderful example of how volunteers can help support technology and digital literacy initiatives.
I interviewed Siruguri along with Dan Beringhele, an adult services librarian at the Berkeley Public Library's Central Library, and Anwan Baker, the supervising librarian for adult services. Siruguri had approached the BPL because he was searching for a venue to host a RailsBridge workshop, a weekend event that teaches coding to underserved people. Previously, the Central Library had only offered basic computer classes, and both Beringhele and Baker wanted to see if there was any interest in more advanced programs, like coding.
How Skilled Volunteers Can Find Libraries (and Vice Versa)
After speaking with Siruguri, I started pondering how tech-savvy volunteers and libraries can find each other. Here are a few ideas.
- Use VolunteerMatch to seek out tech-savvy volunteers — this is how I've found two of my previous library volunteer positions.
- Host local technology-focused clubs or groups, like RailsBridge or NetSquared.
- Contact computer science departments at local colleges and ask if you can advertise for volunteers.
- Reach out to your local high school tech clubs and ask if they'd like to teach a class.
- Link up with a local organization that teaches coding.
- Host a hackathon at your library and end with a plug for volunteer opportunities.
For tips on engaging and retaining library volunteers, I highly recommend reading a recap of a webinar we did last year with the Denver Public Library and the Rutland Free Library. Got tips on finding technology volunteers? Or have you started a coding class or club at your library? Share with us in the comments.
More Coding Resources from TechSoup
- Host a Coding Class at Your Library: Resources and Tools
- 8-Year-Old Teaches Coding Skills at Public Libraries with Her Invented Board Game, Coder Bunnyz
- Bay Area Teens Share the Love of Coding (Part I)
- MathAndCoding Turns the Library into a Coding Classroom
- You Can Code It! Free Resources for Learning HTML, CSS, and More
More Volunteer Management Resources from TechSoup
- How to Be a Rock Star Volunteer Manager
- TechSoup's Digital Engagement forum
- Cloud and Collaboration Tools from TechSoup