Girls Who Code Setup Steps

Girls Who Code Logo

When I saw Reshma speak at ALA, I knew I had to get involved with Girls Who Code. For a library with little space to spare, I thought it might have been a challenge to set up a club. And it

was, to a degree. My fellow librarians were as eager as me to get involved and we made it happen.

Below is a list of steps I took to get our club started. The GWC site provides you with all the info you need but I thought a quick checklist of what I did would be helpful to others looking into setting up their own club.

  1. Find a space and day that you can reserve for at least an hour a week for 15 weeks. If you choose a day on which holidays usually fall, make sure you can extend the number of weeks by the number of holidays. For example: Monday nights from January to April have 3 holidays. So you would have to make sure the space is available for 18 weeks.

  1. Sign up your location for a club here:

  1. You don’t need any technical background to be a club facilitator, GWC provides you with course materials and support to do it no matter your background. However, if you don’t have the time or comfort level, you’ll want to ask around for volunteers.

  1. Once you have your volunteer facilitators, the recommended number is at least 3, have them fill out the facilitator application here: You’ll need to give them your club’s code, which you were assigned when you completed step 2.

  1. Also once you complete step 2, you’re on this page:, so you may start to receive inquiries. At this point, you may want to gather information on the girls using a Google Form as they inquire in case you receive more interest than you can handle. For example: If you only have spots for 10 girls, you’ll want to make sure they don’t have any other commitments the day your club will be meeting. You may also want to get their hometown. These two pieces of info are useful when evaluating who should get priority over whom.

  1. Before the club’s start date, hold a facilitator prep meeting. That way they can see the space in which they’ll be working and can review the course materials to come up with a game plan on how they’d like to teach.

  1. Before the club’s start date, have the girls you choose from step 5 sign up on the site: By doing this before the first class, the girls will be free to start coding from day 1.

    We’ve got plenty of volunteers, and even have our 10 girls, but we’re not starting the classes until January. So check back here for more info as our journey continues.


Curmudgeonly Cartridges

Red PLA Cube 3 Cartridge Disassembled

The longer we have the 3D printer, the shorter my patience grows.

We purchased a Cube 3 back in January of 2015. We actually had to wait for the Cube 3 to come out before getting our printer. We had originally planned on the Cube 2, but since it was being replaced by the 3 in a matter of months and because the 3 allowed us the option of printing in two colors, we decided to hold off and purchase the Cube 3.

We it first arrived , I had a bit of a learning curve but that’s true for any first contact with a technology. I had to learn the ways of 3D printing and was frustrated on more than one occasion, mostly by having to manually level the bed. Mine are not hands that are attuned to fine motor skills. Every so often I’d run into jammed cartridge and got quite adept and taking the cartridges apart and putting ’em back to together. However, now it’s happening to every cartridge every other time we try to print something.

Am I just running into a bad batch of cartridges? Am I not taking good enough care of them? Is it poor design? Is the plastic just simply brittle? I’m not sure what the ultimate cause is.  But what I do know is that I’m looking to buy a new printer and that I won’t buy another Cube 3. I can’t. They discontinued the printer last year. Perhaps that should have been a sign…



Asking Difficult Questions

Question Marks over a stick figureI almost didn’t post this one because it can so easily be taken as an indictment to my workplace. But I assure you I love my library. While there are difficulties, it’s nowhere near as bad as I’ve experienced before. That said, I thought this would be useful to add to my stash of knowledge of warning signs. It was.


  • @658point8 @meganegbert @cswarren321
  • “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Peter Drucker
  • #orgculture
  • “Be intentional and address org culture in your library. Address it head on” @kongtemplation
  • “You cannot change the culture alone.”  @cswarren321
  • “It will take longer than you think and it will be more involved than you can possibly imagine.” @cswarren321
  • Common theme seems to be a director that had been there for decades, like 20,30,40 years and now there’s someone new in charge
  • “Lead from where you are.”  @658point8
  • When discussing problems keep in mind you’re trying to serve the patrons. Ask how is this problem affecting them not how it’s hard on you (or other staff)
  • Hold people accountable but do it with compassion. @kongtemplation
  • Ask yourself “What am I doing to contribute to the problem.”  @658point8
  • Here’s how you build trust: you say you’re going to do something and then you do it. @658point8
  • Trust and Performance are inextricably linked. When one is high so is the other and when one’s low, so’s the other.
  • Be the manager you are. AKA if you’re a thinker, think; if you’re a feeler, feel. (Meyers-Briggs style) @cswarren321
  • Bring questions not answers to people with problems. @meganegbert
  • Leadership meeting: “What’s broken? What’s the Rumor?” @meganegbert
  • How do we address the overwhelming whiteness in the field? Talk about it. Talk about all areas of it. Two other ways: Actively fight oppression and create more pressure to solve the issue. (It’s not an answer but it’s a start and you have to start somewhere) @kongtemplation
  • We have to stop just looking at whom is applying for jobs, we have to start ‘em young. Mentor them and pay ‘em to show them they might want to become one. @meganegbert
  • If you’re white be aware of your privilege and act to give others the same privilege you receive. @cswarren321    

Trust & Transparency During Times of Rapid Change

My big takeaway here is the removing of the Ref Desk and make the ref staff mobile. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of the “Meet them where they are” tactic.

  • Customer OutReach and Engagement (CORE) model
  • Take the lib out beyond the 4 walls, take it to the people
    • Upgraded RFID and freed up staff out to other duties (had to shut down lib for a week to roll out tech and train and help staff navigate the changes). Not a single staff member lost a job.
  • Got rid of the service desks (thanks to the RFID) and put in tables, comfy chairs. It removed the barrier b/w staff and patrons. They held a Farewell Party for the desks.
    • Staff feared the patrons wouldn’t need ‘em. It turned out that they’re approached and more ref Qs popped up.
    • Mobile Librarian, a podium on wheels with laptops and printer. Anything they could do on the desk, they could do on the podium.
  • Book = Managing Transitions by William Bridges
    • “Change is external, transition is internal”
    • 3 Phase process
      1. Ending, losing, letting go
      2. The Neutral Zone (this is the crazy time, most anxious, but also most creative)
      3. The New Beginning
  • It’s ok to say “I don’t know”
  • Don’t sell the new thing, tell the staff why things are changing
  • Post all meeting minutes so that there’s transparency for ALL staff, managers to pages
  • Suggestion Ox outside service that allows for anonymous suggestions

The Glass is Half Full

Since I work in a small library, this session seemed right up my alley. It turned out the be so much more than that. I now love the city of Joliet for more than giving us Joliet Jake Blues. The work they’re doing with the homeless is nothing short of inspiring.

  • (Sarah) Poor and Scrappy Libs
  • When you’re working in an underfunded lib you’re forced to think outside the box
  • Strategic Grant applications are a source of money or skills. Choose wisely because the staff time is limited
  • Programming- find partners!
    • Stay and Play, dump toys on the floor and let ‘em play
    • Students for student tutors
    • Art Exhibit virtual tours
    • Blanket Fort Storytimes!
  • Outreach
    • Bike library
    • Farmer’s Market
    • Monthly Health Fairs
    • The Library loves you week (on Valentine’s week)
    • Partner with Schools
    • Little Free Library- disabled adult volunteers restock once a week
  • Welcome to All Posters are big wins 
  • Also:
  • No fines for kids
  • Embrace Trends like Pokemon Go!
  • Telling stories gets money, don’t even have to ask for money. Just tell what you do.
  • (Denise) Joliet Public Library (Yes the same that gave Joliet Jake Blues his name)
    • Their urban location was deemed an unsafe location. (They treated homeless as patrons not problems!)
      • Homeless folks were hanging around and people perceived as just a homeless location and stayed away
      • No $ for social worker to help homeless
      • Contacted an org that gets money from HUD (housing and urban development)
      • The org was holding meetings to help the homeless but were held in the suburban side and the homeless couldn’t get there. So they held it at the lib and some answers were gotten
      • They worked with org to help the new HUD focus of Housing First
      • Transportation, again, is a big issue (bus system very bad)
      • So, again, Lib becomes a center to help
      • They did a Giving Tree during Christmas focused on the things the homeless needs.
      • “Coffee And…” Program allows homeless to get some coffee and donuts and talk about their problems.
      • To engage the homeless is not an easy process. But connecting with one can start the word of mouth to others to take advantage of the services.
  • (Virginia) Yosemite Research Lib
    • They had boxes and cabinets galore and a mess. No virtual presence
    • No insulation in storage room
    • Issues:
      • Remoteness
      • No wifi
      • No “night life”
      • Dangerous: Fire, rockfalls, downed trees, floods
    • When meeting with decision makers, have your 30 second elevator speech ready
    • Helping people, going the extra mile, can lead to donations. So always put on your customer service face
    • Connected with the SJSU Special Lib Asc to get volunteers to help clean up the mess and give them a virtual presence. The docs in those boxes are starting the be searchable online
    • Again, look for grants
  • (Janice) ALA’s Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Round Table
    • Problem: a student wanted a Dummies book on the Holocaust. So she wanted to change the classroom culture.
    • Sometimes things cost time (time to build relationships to get changes done) but not money but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less difficult.
      • She was able to not only save the library but also keep it from moving to a much smaller location

LITA Top Tech Trends

This was a really great session. The speakers were engaging and the topics covered were awesome. That’s not to take away from any of the other sessions I attended, but Tech Trends just happens to be in m wheelhouse.



  • Cloud Computing- Chromebooks to replace traditional PCs. Georgia worked with Google and added print and time management.  More info
      • Q 1: Is it scalable? Google Cloud Computing YES!
      • Q 2: Is it affordable? Dist Charging = No! Very $
      • (@mbreeding) Open Source ILSs haven’t changed the game but have shaken up the game. ABout 12% of pub libs run open source ILSs
      • Uneven Access to technology is a BIG deal.
    • Theme 2- New models of innovation and entrepreneurship
      • (@tmradniecki) Makerspaces – Most cater twd youth, which is usually cheaper, too. Sewing machines can be popular. They have a laser cutter. Multimedia creation is a makerspace offering. So with our DML and 3D Printer and mindstorms we technically have what we need to start. The ability to make prototypes is a huge benefit for entrepreneurs. Some academic libraries are starting to create networks to eval makerspaces and come up with makerspace competencies. When starting a makerspace, make sure you can answer WHY you’re creating it. (@vjpitch): Biggest mistake libraries make: trying to do everything for everyone. We end up doing nothing for anyone.
    • Theme 3- New models for partnership
      • (@ACDH_OeAW) Social Media Outreach- They are designed to have two-way conversations with your community. That makes them a powerful tool. Need to assign enough staff to handle the load. Don’t be so formal! It’s essentially small talk. Don’t just tweet events and stuff. Don’t be afraid of personality. It’s also ok to have different personalities, that will broaden your reach because each person reaches a different staff. We do most of this well, but might want to question the single voice decision.
      • Open Licensing- Open access and licensing are both very important. In a digital space the whole world becomes your potential target, so you need to make sure everyone is able to use what you offer. Creative Commons is a key to success in this area. A license is only useful to potential user if they recognize it. Hence CC. There seems to be a huge fear of open licensing in the US but not the EU.
    • (@vjpitch) eContent Revolution– Focus on Access, content, and experience. (Links to biblioboard collection) Forget signons, use IP authen to allow access. Right now content is being given free for 3 months. Stop the “If you build it, they will come. You should reach peeps where they ARE.” eBooks is a print solution to digital problems. We can’t be afraid to put down services that aren’t being used.
    • Libraries are more guilty of lack of security than vendors. Example, we should run our website on HTTPS. All social media is https, Google is https.

Dr Hayden Panel

Day Two!

This ended up being the first of two misleading sessions. I thought it would be her speaking. Yet, aside from a few comments, it was just her interviewing three other dudes. A bit disappointing but maybe I didn’t take care reading the description of the event. All the same, though, it was great to see her in person.

  • She got a standing O walking out
  • Also on the panel
  • NY– The Power of education can overcome just about any obstacle
  • Chicago– Social Justice is why I got into Libs
  • SF– “Every library, every day” in SF to make sure every lib is open on Sundays
  • Chicago–  circ (even accounting for digital items) is flat or declining, but there’s a marked increase in the # of people IN the physical library itself.
  • NY– We’re in competition for people’s mental activity and we’re losing (TV, Internet, etc)
    • We have to sell, something we’re already doing with our dedicated Marketing Librarian
  • SF– Their dedicated TeenZone (“The Mix”) is a place for them and the libs step out of the way and let the teens own the place.
  • Chicago– We need to find ways to make dedicated spaces for patrons to own and create and learn whether it’s digital media labs, makerspaces, or whatever.
  • SF– after the election put out posters in multiple languages, “All are welcome.”
    • They were one of the first that has a social worker in the library to help
  • Chicago– they looked to see who is using the lib and it crossed everything; class, race, age, politics, everything
    • They want to stay neutral so that everyone is welcome. Present the issues but don’t take sides.
  • NY– Has 5,000 people on a waitlist for coding instruction
  • SF– We’re now in the business of High School diplomas by eLearning
    • Dude who was a lawyer in his home country did this and they help a grad ceremony for him, cap and gown and everything
  • NY— Look for the low hanging fruit. There’s so much we can be doing if we only make the effort
  • Chicago– Finding and providing mentors is very important, staff to staff, patron to patron, or staff to patron
  • Q from crowd: Why are there 3 white men on the stage? Where’s the diversity?
    • SF– They’re starting mentor programs to get everyone the opportunity to get where the white men traditionally have
    • Chicago– They will pay for anyone to go to library school as long as they maintain a B average. Doing this has made their staff more representative of the city.
    • NY– They have 2 of the first non-white women in their history on the board.
  • SF– Pop-up village offers haircuts, showers, beds outside the lib for those who need it.