The association Public Libraries 2020 is the voice of the 65,000 public libraries we have in the EU and their aim is to bring libraries into the digital age. Public Libraries 2020 want to highlight the role libraries play as digital learning hubs for all generations and that they help both with digital and traditional skills every day.
Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, who hosted the event, said: "Libraries and coding is a match made in heaven". I couldn't agree more. Libraries are much more than books. They are real meeting points of digital and traditional skills. This year libraries around Europe have joined EU Code Week and host events where young and old can code, 3D print and tinker with hardware. Some are real maker and hacker spaces – as was shown at the exhibition at the European parliament.
Libraries have always been beacons, allowing access to knowledge for all. Apart from spreading coding skills to all generations, I see an active role for them to play in the Digital skills and jobs coalition that we will launch on 1 December. Libraries are key national stakeholders in bringing digital skills to all levels of education and training and could be a natural partner in national coalitions.
Through the 2016 Digital Skills Award, we are looking for the best projects in Europe which encourage people to improve their digital skills. We want to showcase these projects and inspire others to take similar action across Europe. The competition is open until 31 October so if you have a good project or know about one that should scale-up – apply!
Three years ago coding and digital skills were not high on the political agenda. Most people thought programming and hacking were related to murky activities taking place in garages and basements. This week is the fourth edition of EU Code Week – hundreds of thousands of people of all ages are celebrating creating with code. The number of events has gone from 3,000 in 2013 to more than 15,000 coding events this year in and outside of Europe.
I am very pleased that libraries are now part of this movement, as they host, together with schools and other digital spaces, coding workshops which attract so much interest that they evolve into permanent code and maker clubs – which are popping up all over Europe. This is important because ultimately the aim of EU Code Week is to make "every week Code Week".
A big thank you to Libraries for helping us do this!
Claire Bury is the Deputy Director-General of DG Connect