Curious Blog: Libraries Moving Forward With Digital – Curious Minds
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Curious Blog: Libraries Moving Forward With Digital

Libraries across the North West are moving forward with digital with support from Curious Minds. Hayley Trowbridge, director of wehearttech C.I.C. blogs about the aims of this programme of work.

You might remember back in 2015 Curious Minds organised a series of digital capacity building sessions across the North West specifically aimed at people working in library settings. The sessions supported libraries to enhance their digital offer to children and young people through investing in libraries’ core asset; their staff and volunteers. Well, a lot changes in the digital world in a couple of years, so the digital capacity building programme is back with some new bits of technological loveliness to help support our libraries on their digital journeys.

Since accessing the last round of digital CPD workshops, libraries in the North West have been making the most of their new digital skills and the ideas that the sessions provoked. In Rochdale, the sessions spurred the libraries on to start engaging in Code Club activities and in neighbouring Manchester, they have begun running digital activities for their communities and have been successful in attracting further funding to support this work. Over in West Cumbria, the team who attended digital creativity workshops there have worked on their digital strategy and have also been offering some digital photography and sound production sessions. So as you can see, our libraries have already have got their tech on!

However, with the digital world always changing and different library areas being at different stages in their digital development, investment in the people who run and deliver library services in terms of their digital capacities is still needed. In a recent small-scale consultation with libraries across the North West, the range of need in terms of staff training was quite diverse. Some libraries needed support with thinking strategically about their digital futures, whereas others wanted to learn more about specific skill areas such as blogging and using devices like tablets to their fullest potential. Other libraries were keen to embrace digital in creative ways through storytelling and creative media, and some were interested in learning how to run Code Clubs and even hack/techathons!

The consultation also shed light on the ideas that different library services have for the future. In St. Helens the team is keen to incorporate digital storytelling in their reading for pleasure programme and in Sefton they are developing partnerships with organisations such as Liverpool Girl Geeks to set-up coding academies and support young women to engage with technology. Other libraries such as Halton Libraries want to embed digital into their core offer and areas such as Salford are keen to ensure that they can develop a digital offer that is sustainable. In Liverpool, funding is currently enabling them to offer digital maker activities in their central and branch libraries, with the Culture Matters strand of this work specifically engaging young people with disabilities in tech and culture. Whether investment in our libraries is to enhance and sustain the existing skillsets of workers and the activities offered by libraries, or to introduce new technology and its usages to them, programmes like this one contribute to helping libraries find their own way in the digital landscape.

With this and the every-changing digital world in mind, the programme being rolled over the next few months blends together some of the topics covered in the previous programme with new, more topical subjects and technologies thrown in as well. We’re still going to be offering support in terms of strategic thinking and planning around the development of digital offers for children and young people, and there will be some more sessions on tablet technology and core digital skills. Yet mixed in with this there will also be some new workshops, such as a how to organise a hackathon and create app prototypes, as we well as further exploration of digital creativity through storytelling and apps.

And in case all that wasn’t enough, we will use the learning from the consultation and the delivery of this programme of workshops to create a toolkit for libraries that will support them to deliver sustainability digital activities for children and young people… So watch this space!

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