Advocating for Technology Programming

Technology programming can be fun and educational, but it can also be expensive, intimidating, and misunderstood. It’s not always easy to get started on a new project: when organizing technology programming, librarians can face a variety of problems that don’t arise when doing more traditional projects. At our February 10 meeting, we discussed the sometimes tricky business of advocating for technology programming in the library. Next time you’re in a tough spot, keep these ideas, gleaned from the expertise and experience of Tinker members, in mind.

What barriers do you face?
~Low budgets
~Lack of staff time
~Patron attendance
~Lack of cooperation from IT staff
~Lack of training or little time for training
~Poor communication with administration or lack of understanding in administration
~Space constraints
~Competition with other local nonprofits. Library programs may be viewed as less valuable because they are free.

How do you overcome these barriers?
Budget barriers
~Get funding from the Friends of the Library
~Kickstarter
~Community groups
~Keep a wishlist ready at all times
~Build on a pilot project. Start cheap and small and work toward something bigger.
~Corporate grants/sponsorships
~Bequests
~Random special funds

Time barriers
~Teamwork: offer to staff the desk for a colleague in exchange for time off for yourself another time
~Do your tech work on the desk anyway. It may attract attention from patrons!

Administrative barriers
~Share outcomes, both statistical and narrative
~Speak at a board meeting or administrative meeting
~Take pictures and videos at your programs and save them for presentations or reports later
~Post pictures and videos on social media
~Invite board members to your programs
~Pass along community requests to administrators

How do you use your relationship with schools to build technology programming?
~Collaborate on Hour of Code activities
~Bring equipment to after-school programs, then encourage the kids to come to the library to use it
~Attend STEM night at school
~Bring a technology petting zoo to school

How do you promote awareness of technology programming with patrons?
~Do your work at the desk so that patrons can see what you’re doing
~Promote programs while doing readers’ advisory
~Advertise programs through the catalog. For example, Polaris allows you to advertise a program for Photoshop when someone looks up a book about Photoshop.
~Post your programs to social media, both before and after
~Reach out to scouts and other community groups
~Keep in contact with technology teachers, librarians
~Announce future programs during other programs
~Use kid word-of-mouth

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