Big book donation kickstarts youth coding club at DCPL - DC


Oct. 10, 2017 9:33 am

Big book donation kickstarts youth coding club at DCPL

The partnership with Girls Who Code is extending to neighborhood libraries.
Girls Who Code 2016.

Girls Who Code 2016.

(Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

The D.C. Public Library has teamed up with Girls Who Code to develop a free after-school program teaching young people to code. The partnership all started with a surprisingly large book donation.

In August, Girls Who Code decided to donate copies of their book, “Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World,” to the D.C. Public Libraries (DCPL). Eight hundred copies to be exact.

“We wanted to give the books where they could make the most impact,” said Corinne Roller, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for Girls Who Code.

According to Roller, Girls Who Code partnered with corporate sponsor AT&T to donate 4,000 books nationwide this year, and designated 800 copies for the DCPL to provide a way to empower girls to see themselves as coders.

“DC Public Library was able to put copies in the collection and even have enough copies to give away.” said DCPL’s Assistant Director for Youth and Family Services, Ellen Riordan. But with more books still leftover, a conversation started between the organizations about next steps.

“It would be great to talk about doing so some clubs for [the DCPL] so that when you have girls who check these books out you can say, ‘Hey there’s a natural outlet, there’s a next step for you,’” Roller recalled of Girls Who Code’s brainstorms with DCPL.

“It’s not just read the book and go on. It’s read the book and then join this club. Let’s not just let the learning stop when the book closes.”

Now the two organizations are fine-tuning their plans to continue the learning.

“The DC Public Library and Girls Who Code partnership will provide a number of coding clubs in neighborhood libraries that will provide an after school opportunity for young people to learn about coding and its applications in a fun and friendly environment,” Riordan said via email.


While details are still being finalized, Riordan said the two organizations are aiming to host 10-week programs of about 10-15 youths in various libraries.

“These clubs will introduce the basic elements of coding and provide coding activities that engage young people in both learning code and focusing on a project that helps their communities,” said Riordan, who also clarified that boys and girls will be welcome to join the clubs.

While DCPL provides the space, Girls Who Code will be providing course content and experience from running their own teen coding clubs for girls, including a series in D.C. we covered last summer.

“Coding can change the world and we think libraries can too,” Riordan wrote. “Imagine what will happen when the two come together?”




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