Grant brings Family Code Night to Cranston

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On Dec. 11, Cranston Public Libraries will be one of three city library systems that will launch a Family Code Night event, thanks to a grant secured in part by Valerie Karno, Director of Graduate School of Library Information Studies (GSLIS). The event will target diverse populations in three cities including Central Falls, Providence, and Cranston.

“These communities and families are not necessarily traditional families and they may not otherwise be able to get these skills,” Karno said.

Karno recently had the opportunity to attend an invitation-only conference this past May, sponsored by the Infosys Foundation, whose new innovation hub is in Rhode Island.

“Governor Gina Raimondo was instrumental in bringing them here to Rhode Island,” Karno said. “They also have a location in Palo Alto, California. We in GSLIS are obviously very interconnected with information technology. Infosys knew a little bit about me and I received an invitation to attend the conference.”

It was at the conference where Karno had the opportunity to connect with many people from both public library systems and school library systems. She also learned that as a participant in the conference, she would have the opportunity to apply for a grant.

Karno connected with John Pearce, the executive director of Family Code Night and learned that he has been introducing schools all over the country to K-6 coding events.

“I told him that I wanted to do this all over Rhode Island for families,” Karno said. “I wanted to be able to introduce coding skills at an early age for kids and parents and be able to create a whole other support system for these skills that are also important job skills.”

Karno and Pearce collaborated to apply for the grant and won. Thanks to their collaborative efforts, they will be working with three public libraries to bring Family Code Night to families and the event will launch in Cranston on December 11 at the Central Library location. There will be two training sessions for librarians during the day, one in the morning from 9:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., and one in the afternoon from 4:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., followed by a press event with speakers from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and a reception will begin at 6:00 p.m. The Family Coding event will run from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“We are going to have 10 GSLIS students and GSLIS faculty and we’ll have a host of librarians coming together to learn family coding. Then we’ll be sending all these new mentors into the rest of Rhode Island with the goal of scaling this to become perhaps the first state to offer this in every public library,” Karno said. “These first three public libraries are serving as sort of a pilot program and they’re very diverse communities.”

It is the collaborative nature of the Family Code Night that excites Karno most.

“This is a true collaboration of involving industry, academia, the state of Rhode Island, and libraries,” she said. “This is the exact kind of cooperative collaboration that can create real change. It’s a transformative program that can continue to show how libraries are so relevant as community centers and educational centers in our state. Rhode Island is a small enough state that we can do this, and people here are genuinely excited to work together. I’m glad to be able to convert this to action so quickly.”

Karno is also pleased that she was able to spearhead such a collaboration.

“I’m really happy to be the catalyst and be able to facilitate the opportunity for everybody to benefit from working together,” she said. “URI and GSLIS take community responsibility very seriously. We are the state’s public university and we take our role seriously.”

Librarians can register for the training by visiting the link at olis-ri.libcal.com/event/4761171 and families can learn more about the event by following this link: cranstonlibrary.org/kids-teens-news/2018/11/29/family-code-night-central.

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