2019-03-08 / Front Page

Woodworth offers more than just books, media

Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

Evelyn Guzman, Woodworth Consolidated Library recreation specialist, works on a project in Woodworth Library’s STEAM Lab. Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Evelyn Guzman, Woodworth Consolidated Library recreation specialist, works on a project in Woodworth Library’s STEAM Lab. Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office In a day and age where digital technology has more people reading from handheld devices instead of turning pages, one might wonder how libraries keep up. The library staff at Fort Gordon is proving it does through a variety of ways, and their efforts have captured national attention.

Woodworth Consolidated Library was recently named a Promising Practice Library by the American Library Association (ALA). It was one of 10 from a pool of 220 school and public libraries selected for the award.

To be eligible, libraries had to develop programs connected to one or more Libraries Ready to Code themes: broadening participation, incorporating youth interests, engaging with communities and families, and demonstrating impact through outcomes. The programs were intended to “encourage creativity in storytelling through (computer science) activities for youth to incorporate their own interests while learning to code and developing computational thinking literacies,” according to an ALA press release.

“Libraries Ready to Code is all about providing opportunities for young people to follow their curiosity and develop skills that will help them succeed, whatever fields they pursue,” said Marijke Visser, ALA project leader and associate director/senior policy advocate for the ALA Washington Office.

Woodworth Library’s program was one of 250 programs that came to life with help from a $500 grant provided by the ALA in partnership with Google.

“We decided to use the Google Scratch program and MineCraft, but we want them to understand what coding actually is, so we took them offline as well,” explained Yadira Payne, Woodworth Library director. “By combining the offline physical movement – the person is the robot, this is the programmer – and putting it into simple terms, they were surprised by how we were able to combine the two and have Soldiers engaged in each one of the programs that we offered.”

Once completed, Payne and her team submitted a report to the ALA and Computer Science Education team. Payne believes the report, which included information about additional programs and staff at Woodworth Library, helped earn Woodworth the title of a Promising Practice Library.

Being a Promising Practice Library could open the doors to more grants that will enable the library to continue and enhance programs such as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathmatics).

“STEAM is STEM plus the arts,” said Evelyn Guzman, Woodworth Consolidated Library recreation specialist.

Woodworth patrons have access to an independent STEAM Lab in the library’s atrium. The lab is suitable for all ages, and activities change monthly.

“The parents that normally come for Story Hour on Wednesdays from 10 to 11 (a.m.), and they love it because right after they finish stories, they’re not ready for lunch yet … so they go to the atrium and start whatever activity or lab is there,” Guzman said.

Guzman and her team take STEAM out into the community whenever they can. They have a partnership with Child Youth and Services that allows them to take STEAM to the Teen Center and School Age Center on a quarterly basis. They can also conduct training with military personnel using STEAM supplies – most of which are everyday resources.

“Toilet paper rolls, nuts and bolts, VHS tapes … things I used to consider trash, now we have a roomful for STEAM,” Guzman said. “We are always looking for opportunities with the community to plan and participate STEAM activities. We love what we do, and we’re here to help.”

A recent STEAM activity involving Child, Youth and Service employees had them in teams creating robots. “You could see the collaboration grow, the communication got clearer as they started developing, and then their creativity … it encourages teamwork, and the robots were very impressive,” Yadira said.

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