HISD librarians code for literacy at ‘hackathon’

HISD librarians are participating in a new twist on the usual computer codefest this Saturday, from 12-7 p.m. when they take part in a “literacy hackathon” at the Houston Public Library.

At least six librarians, representing Lovett ES, Colter ES, Bonner ES, Scroggins ES, Johnston Middle School and the Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion School, have signed up to participate in Literacy Hack – a free, collaborative event where designers, writers, educators, software developers and other citizens work together on projects to help the literacy community. The event is sponsored by the Houston Center for Literacy.

Literacy Hack co-organizer Jeff Reichman of January Advisors says the hackathon utilizes technology to center around civic engagement in support of area literacy efforts. “Our city has so many highly skilled, highly engaged people who want to make the world a better place. “ said Reichman. “These collaborative events are a fun way to get involved with the community.”

Hackathons are usually all-day (sometimes multiple day) affairs where software developers and designers work together on projects in the attempt to solve a specific problem. By the end of the hack, the outcome is usually usable computer code that can be implemented. But Literacy Hack isn’t restricted to software engineers.  The hackathon encourages people from all walks of life to attend. Reichman says the hack will “illustrate what’s possible when you put smart people in a room together for a day.”

Lovett ES librarian Monica Babaian plans to use the time to work on a website that lists professional development opportunities that meld with the Literacy By 3 initiativeHISD’sgoal of making sure every student is reading on grade-level by the end of third grade. No stranger to technology, Babaian created a wiki — a collaborative web application — last year for the annual Name That Book competition and writes about print and technology in school libraries on her blog, Innovative Librarianship.

“I like the idea of a partnership between public and school libraries,” said Babaian. “And of course, there’s just curiosity [about the event], which is what it’s all about.”

Babaian will be live-tweeting during the Literacy Hack. Follow her at @txlibrarianbabs.

For more information, to view proposed projects, or to sign up for the Literacy Hack, please visit www.literacyhack.com.

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