Public libraries have long been a great place to learn about computer science and software engineering through a wealth of books and electronic resources, and Google and the American Library Association (ALA) are now rolling out a new program designed to encourage younger library members to take an interest in coding. The program is called Libraries Ready To Code and it aims to provide libraries across the United States with programs, tools, and materials to embrace coding classes and programs. In a blog post published earlier this week, Googler Hai Hong laid out the details about the program and the motivations behind it.
Libraries Ready To Code builds upon Google's existing library programs, mostly by granting libraries universal access to them and giving them the right tools to access them. Google's programs for libraries already include tools to help kids learn to code, as well as benefits like free Wi-Fi for libraries that don't already have it available. Google will be helping libraries roll out the new programs, promote them, and build other library programs and services around them. Another big focus of the initiative is to help library staff learn about coding, empowering them to help kids learn both by providing direct tutelage and by contributing to library programs and services meant to help kids learn to code.
Google chose libraries for this program due to their wide reach, the company revealed. Around 306 million American citizens live within the service areas of local libraries, and unlike schools, the materials and programs available at a library tend to largely transcend geographic and demographic trends. Only around 40 percent of public schools offer curriculums in computer science, but universal access at libraries, including public and school libraries, would greatly expand their availability. In short, this means that Google's program will be giving children in impoverished inner cities the same access to computer science learning programs that children from wealthier areas would have. It seems that the job market of the future will be ruled by artificial intelligence, with creative pursuits and computer sciences being among the last bastions of job areas where computers cannot match humans. In that context, Google's ultimate goal is to help today's children compete in the much more computer-literate job market of tomorrow.