Director of wehearttech C.I.C., Hayley Trowbridge, in her article for Curious Minds, says of digital literacy, “Developing the digital literacy of children and young people should be on the agenda of arts and culture organisations up and down the country.” As JISC, has stated, “90% of new jobs will require excellent digital skills” and the Arts Council sees ‘digital’ as one of their key areas for development, particularly in libraries. Yet this task is not a simple as ‘showing’ children and young people how to use techie gadgets…as they probably already know how to do this! The development of digital literacy must go beyond teaching ICT skills, and into the realms of online information literacy and media literacy. In these areas, children and young people should be provided with opportunities to enhance their critical thinking skills in-line with digital environments, respond and engage with their roles as digital citizens and use digital tools to provide themselves and their communities with a voice and to create social change… And above all, such opportunities should be fun and relevant to the world that they are a part of building. Oh, yeah!
To support North West libraries in meeting the challenges of the digital world, wehearttech C.I.C are delivering a series of digital capacity building events, overseen by Curious Minds. These events support libraries in developing their digital offer for children and young people, enabling them to make of use their current resources in new, engaging ways. As technology develops so fast these days and becomes outdated quickly, this programme shies away from throwing money at the purchase of new technology and, instead, seeks to develop the capacity of libraries’ most valuable resources – their librarians! The events and workshops support library staff across the region in planning for the digital future and up-skilling in a range of areas including digital filmmaking and coding.
Our initial consultation with libraries in the region revealed that digital evolution is already flourishing in some libraries. In Tameside, for instance, libraries have been engaging young people through the collaborative production of a digital film on volunteering. They are building on this by continuing to produce filmed content with young people and by signing up young volunteers to help library customers with digital queries, such as using e-books. In Lancashire, meanwhile, there has been a big uptake in the use of e-books. The trained staff are supporting their customers in how to use them, gathering insights from focus group activities to develop their digital offer further. In addition to this, the Lancashire teams are using a brilliant online platform, Storybird, which builds storytelling communities using digital tools. The platform hosts images from illustrators and artists, which users can transform into imaginative, visual stories. In Blackpool, the libraries are really #gettingtechiewithit (sorry, not sorry!) by offering workshops in Raspberry Pi and CoderDojo, which is seeing them delve into some seriously fun STEM learning offers! Fab!
All of this digital activity just scratches the surface of what libraries can offer to children and young people, and our work in the North West reflect this. In Blackpool they are engaging young people further by collaborating with them to create digital content for the library websites. West Lancashire is building on their libraries’ music programme, using Apple Macs more effectively in the music production process. In Knowsley, the team are exploring how they can better use social, and in West Cumbria they are looking to establish coding clubs in some of their libraries.
As this project continues, we will keep you updated on the digital capacity workshops we will be delivering, reflecting on what we have achieved and the challenges that we and encounter. So join us on this journey as we help to transform our libraries into biblio-techs!
If you would like to find out more about how to get involved with digital capacity building in libraries or would like to speak to us about future collaboration, feel free to get in touch any time!