Meet the Librarian Co-Designers: Claudia Haines

April 20, 2021

For the third edition of our meet the co-designers series, we’re featuring Claudia Haines from Homer Public Library!

Last month, we kicked off a new series where we will highlight some of the librarians who participated in the co-design process with us. You can read more about the co-design process in a previous post. For our third edition, we’re featuring Claudia Haines from Homer Public Library in Alaska. Claudia has been a PLIX collaborator from the beginning! Along with co-designing Beautiful Symmetry, she's participated in lots of our workshops and helped us beta-test and tweak existing PLIX activities.

If you are interested in learning more about Beautiful Symmetry, you can head to our co-design forum thread.

Let's meet Claudia...

The wonderful Claudia!
The wonderful Claudia!

Tell us a bit about your role at your library! What's your favorite part of your job? How is "making" part of your role?

I am the youth services librarian at a stand alone library in Homer, Alaska. I support literacy and learning for young people ages 0-18 and their families in my rural community. I really enjoy working with and seeing young people grow and learn over time. I may meet them as babies or toddlers, but I explore and 'make' with them as they grow - in preschool storytime, during class visits and as part of afterschool or summer programs. Over the last few years that long term relationship has extended into a budding teen mentor program that helps young people (ages 14+) gain the skills and deeper knowledge to be successful facilitators of maker programs themselves. I initially offered maker activities to entice school aged kids to programs at the library, but over time, and with a deeper understanding of concepts like computational thinking, creative learning and media literacy, I have refined the programs to help young people explore creativity, practice problem-solving, develop their technical skills, grow their self-confidence, and collaborate in meaningful ways with other youth and adults.

What excites you about creative learning?

I think creative learning allows young people to feel successful in new and often unexpected ways. A creative learning approach to making is more inclusive and helps remove stereotypes about who should be interested in, and can be "good at", maker type activities. I especially like the opportunities creative learning offers for family programs so young people have additional support for this type of learning beyond the library and their grownups can explore new skills and activities also.

Why were you interested in participating in the co-design to begin with?

As a youth services staff of one, I am often designing and implementing programs on my own, for better or worse. Working on the Beautiful Symmetry project allowed me the opportunity to better understand the co-design process and practice it with a great team of individuals who brought their wide range of knowledge, interests, and humor to the effort.

What is one interesting thing you learned from participating in the co-design?

Co-design takes time. I realized that planning time is often difficult to come by in my work, but the process was so valuable. Each of us in the co-design group gained the knowledge we needed for the project, brought a variety of experiences to the process, and was invested in and satisfied with the outcome.

How did the process connect back to other work you are doing with your library?

The co-design process sparked ideas for how I can incorporate co-design opportunities with youth into the library experience. I intend for the co-design process to help amplify youth voices, broaden participation in library programs and other initiatives, and diversify the types of experiences we offer.

What other PLIX activity are you most excited to run with your patrons? Any remix ideas you'd like to share?

I recently developed an Activity to Go Kit for older kids and teens with the PLIX Space Food activity. It will include many of the recommended materials, design prompts (with a regional twist) to spark making, and an online platform for makers to share what they made with each other.

Favorite book/article/poem/essay you’ve read since last March?

"What is your favorite read" is always a tough question for me. It depends! Caste by Isabel Wilkerson was my favorite adult book of 2020 which I read with my social justice and action book club. We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade and Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry and Juana Martinez-Neal were two of my favorite picture books for children in 2020.