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Starting a Code Club in our Enterprise + Innovation Hub

I’m the assistant library manager at Ipswich County Library. As part of my role I have responsibility for the Enterprise and Innovation Hub located on the top floor of the library, which is where our weekly Code Club is held.

I first heard about Code Club a while ago while carrying out a volunteer role I have outside of the library. The concept interested me, but at that point I wasn’t in a position to be able to move forward. When I started at Ipswich County Library in August 2015 I was quite keen to investigate the idea of a Code Club further. By coincidence a volunteer came in to ask if we could start a Code Club in the library. I didn’t need asking twice!

We’ve set up our Code Club with a combination of volunteers; Code Club, STEMnet and high school students. I started off with one volunteer who was very proactive getting other volunteers on board — she continues to be extremely helpful and is an active volunteer at the sessions.

Newspaper cutting

Our Code Club was featured in the local paper

At each session we generally have 2 Code Club/STEM volunteers and a couple of High School students. The High School students focus on troubleshooting IT and this allows the Code Club/STEM volunteers to interact with the children.

Our group started off at 8 children, after the first group of sessions this was increased to 14. The children range in age from 6-11, the youngest children generally have their parents helping them with the material and the group work well together. We don’t have a rigid structure where the children work systematically through the projects. Instead the children choose their own projects to suit their interest and ability working at their own level — if they choose one that is too hard or too easy they soon change it for another one.

Children at laptops

Coding in the hub

The greatest challenge for our Code Club is also our greatest triumph. The club has been more popular than I imagined. The waiting list continues to grow faster than we can create spaces in our club! I’m now considering starting a second Code Club. I’ve approached a local college who have Level 3 Game Design and IT students to see any of them would like to gain some valuable work experience.

My advice to anyone else working in a library and considering starting a Code Club would be: Go for it, what have you got to lose? It’s a really great experience to see the children engaged and learning at a Club they have chosen to come to.