Wednesday, April 09, 2014

#CILDC : Library Hackathons: How, Why, & Impact! - Justin Grimes & Nate Hill

Description: Last year IMLS issued a challenge around its Public Library Survey data as part of the inaugural National Day of Civic Hacking, June 1–2, 2013. With 11,000 participants nationwide, the event resulted in the creation of several IMLS-related projects, as well as greater awareness of library hackathon involvement throughout the country. Whether through hosted events or participation in local challenges, a number of libraries engaged in this nationwide open data event. Presenters share lessons learned from their involvement as well as practical tips for hosting your own library hackathon. Learn how libraries can add value to these events and reach new users for transformative results.

Session Notes

What is a hackathon? Event that lasts 1-2 days to do software development.  More broadly...a tool for community organizing.

The National Day of Civic Hacking - 95 events nationwide in June 2013. IMLS made data available and asked people to come up with new ways of using that data.  People did maps, data cleaning, mobile apps, analysis.  The best thing is that IMLS got engagement with a larger community.  They got to hear what people wanted in terms of data and access.  Raised awareness of what IMLS does.

Dozens of libraries and museums participated in this day as hosts, etc.  Chattanooga participate in this.

Hackathons have intentional themes.

Chattanooga -
DPLA appfest, Nov, 2012 - ~100 people.  What tools do people need in order to do a hackathon? What does the environment need to have in it?  People need the space to self organize.
Not just your house! Be a part of the community.
You may want to participate in one first, before you host one.  It is a way of building community.  You also know better how one works and what it needs.

48 hour Launch, March 2014 - not just writing code.  Some left the event with business plans.  Others create visual designs of their ideas.

DevDev, 2013, Developing Developers for a summer camp.  50 kids. Will be done in 2014 again.

They are wonderful momentum builders.

People often make crappy apps at these events.  The true benefit is the community and what can come next.

Mozilla and NSF are investing in Chattanooga.  The Gigabit Community Fund.  Started off with something that was charette-like.

National Day of Hacking - result...are going to serve open data from the library.  Have written a grant. People can build using this data.  For example, the Chatt Crimes app.  This means that they have regular hackathons around this.

Hackathon fatigue is a real thing. Don't overdo it.  You should coordinate efforts. Build a greater community that way.

How does the library deal with people in the library after hours?  Chattanooga sees this as a priority. The staff works a lot to provide coverage.  One "problem" is that you can't regularly have beer in the library. Thankfully there is a dive bar across the street.

And things that are dangerous about Hackathons?  No. Be aware that the people who do hackathons are activists.  The biggest danger is not planning well enough.

Hackathons are 99% planning.  Establish rules and a framework.  Create a safe place, so that you will get a diverse group participating.  You need to do lots of outreach.  There are resources online that you can use to help create a safe place from other hackathons.

Libraries need staff that "get" hackathons and coding.  If you're outsourcing your software/web development, you're on the outside on this community.

Hackathons can create space for intergenerational learning.  Don't prevent that.  Staff/volunteers need to be present to ensure a safe space and good interaction.

If people have concerns with the work "hack", then call it something else.  The important thing is what you do and not what you call it.

Infrastructure needs - don't start with that, start with what the community is all about.  Find the sweet spot between their needs and what the library can offer.  You may need to use a different building.

Grimes will make slides available that contains some of the minimal needs for a hackathon.  (I suspect that the information is online somewhere.)

Addendum (4/14/2014):

Hackathon in a box,
How to run a hackathon,

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