Burlington Public Library: The Intersection of Digital Literacy and a Community of Making

Burlington Public Library recently joined as an official member of the Hive Toronto network. This post was written by the Burlington Public Library team to share why BPL joined the community, specifically around the opportunities BPL hopes to work towards by leveraging the connections, knowledge and existing resources within the Hive community.

Burlington Public Library had a few challenges:

  1. We wanted to find a way to provide teens with programs that would develop their digital literacy and other making skills – but couldn’t figure out the best way.
  2. We had the traditional library problem of teens not thinking of the library as a space where these kinds of activities happen.
  3. We were hearing from teens that they were desperate for meaningful volunteer opportunities to fulfill their required volunteer hours.

BPL now has a plan. We’re going to have teens come to the library to learn some of these skills AND get volunteer hours for doing it. Here’s a small example of how it’s going to work.

On Saturday, September 6th, Karen Smith from Mozilla came to BPL to introduce a small group of teens to Webmaker’s collection of tools: Thimble, X-Ray Goggles, and Parapara. The teens then got volunteer hours for coming to the session. Why? Because they committed themselves to showing other teens how to use these services and committed to participate in our DIY+Maker Expo in October to show the larger public how to use them. They’ll get volunteer hours for doing that as well.


Mozilla’s Parapara Tool: click on the image to the full activity kit and learn how to run your own workshop with this tool.

We’re hoping that these kinds of volunteer opportunities will enable us to spread our ability to provide youth with some of the skills that they need. The goal is for youth to both learn and give back. By asking them to share their new skills with others, we know that it will help solidify what they’ve learned and will also build their social skills. We’re also hoping that it will lead to them co-designing some of the opportunities they’d like to see happen. Will this plan work? We think so – so stay tuned!

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