GSLIS hosts coding nights for local families

By Olivia Carle

Valerie Karno, professor and director of the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS), has used an Infosys Foundation C3 Grant to bring coding nights to public libraries and families in Rhode Island.

Karno was first invited to to attend the invitation-only Infosys Conference in Silicon Valley, where she applied for the Infosys C3 Grant, a collaborative grant meant to be used with another attendee. While at the conference, Karno met Executive Director of Family Code Night, John Pierce, with whom she decided to partner.

“I suggested to John that we partner and bring family coding events to public libraries,” Karno said. “I thought it would be so terrific to do family code events with parents or caregivers and their kids at public libraries. So, we applied for this grant and won.”

With this grant, GSLIS, in collaboration with Family Code Night, Infosys, and the state of Rhode Island, brought family coding events to three public libraries across Rhode Island, including Cranston Public Library, Providence Community Library, and Central Falls Adams Library.

“The events were geared for kids K-6 and their parents. The idea was that you instill early coding skills for families, so they really stick. The parents learned as well.”

Students did not actually program computers with code. Rather, they learned foundational skills.

“What they were doing is the foundational building blocks of coding, through fun puzzle solving together. It was really fun.”

Karno stressed the importance of having knowledge of coding skills in today’s digital world.

“It’s become increasingly important to understand how to code and understand the logical processes involved with coding in this digital moment,” Karno said. “By giving students, kids, and their families, these skills early on, what you’re doing is giving them a leg up in the world, because eventually they really need to know how to do these things. So, this is a great way to start, by embedding it in the family setting – everybody gets on board.”

The grant is targeted toward underprivileged, diverse communities to reach families who don’t readily have access to these kinds of coding programs.

“I love this grant because its a collaboration between industry, academia, the state, and libraries,” said Karno. “So, it’s very novel for all these groups to work together to create something wonderful.”