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Using Recycled Materials for Makerspaces Makerspaces and Un-Makerspaces

Benefits of STEM in Public Libraries

"There is a push for STEM focused education is nationwide. In 2009, the Obama Administration announced its commitment to the education of today's youth and their need to excel in science, technology, engineering and math, President Obama knows that we simply cannot, as a Nation, expect to maintain our run of ingenuity and innovation-we cannot maintain that stream of new and different ideas-if we do not broaden participation in STEM to all Americans, including women and girls and minorities. To that end the Administration has taken steps to bolster the participation of these groups through in the following ways:

  • "Focusing on underrepresented groups: Engaging and broadening participation of underrepresented groups lies at the heart of many of the aforementioned initiatives, such as Change the Equation, whose third pillar focuses on increasing opportunities for women, girls, and minorities."
  • "Exposing girls and young women to STEM fields: Through innovative arrangements such as the NASA/Girl Scouts of the USA partnership, the Department of Energy's Women in STEM mentoring program and numerous other commitments agencies across the Administration and the private sector are creating opportunities for students to gain hands on experience and guidance as they navigate STEM subjects."
  • "Setting the standard with exceptional role models: Recognizing the need for more women champions and role models in STEM fields, the President has appointed a number of talented women to lead science and technology efforts for the administration, including Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar, and National Science Foundation Acting Director Cora Marrett. Many of these women have also committed to reaching out to students through the OSTP/Council on Women & Girls Women in STEM Speakers Bureau."
  • "Promoting tech inclusion: In January 2013, the White House issued a call to tech innovators to work together to ensure that all youth-particularly those from underserved and historically underrepresented communities, including women and girls-have the opportunity to study STEM subjects and participate in the technology sector."


YALSA issued a brief highlighting the benefits STEM in public libraries has for teens, Issue Brief(PDF)

"Libraries are Positioned to Leverage Community Resources "As the hub of a community, libraries have connections to schools, youth programs, local businesses and more. They have the ability to pool together a community's resources in order to effectively and efficiently deliver high impact programs. The STEM approach provides a way for librarians to connect the various STEM materials in our collections with the programs that we already have in place. Libraries are learning spaces and places where patrons come to learn information of their own volition. Coming up with new and innovative STEM programs will be a way to engage teens and younger children in your library in areas that are important in their future workplace. Library programs allow for more complete subject integration, ie STEM integration, than traditional school classrooms where most STEM education is dictated by the teacher. The library offers a judgment-free, grade-free zone where children can explore, make mistakes, and come back continuously week after week to develop more comprehensive activities, skills, and projects."

Youth Services Librarianship Wikispace

STEM Programming

Why STEM Programming in Libraries

"The National Science Board, which is the Governing Board of the National Science Foundation & Policy Advisors to the President and Congress, have outlined several facets of STEM education that librarians and educators at large need to be aware of when it comes to children. As librarians and teachers, we must first be aware of the economy that our patrons are born into and will be working in in the future. STEM programming and STEM education, as outlined in the National Science Board's action plan (PDF) discusses how while it is important for schools to educate students on the value of a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, the task cannot only fall to teachers. By becoming more involved with the standards set forth by the National Science Board, librarians can develop programming that fits into the larger STEM education goals of the nation.

In addition to school library settings, public libraries are an excellent place to provide STEM in afterschool or out-of-school settings. The less formal STEM environment provided through a public library can serve as natural reinforcement and encouragement to the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills learned in school without being heavy handed. Children choose to participate in these programs based off their interests rather than as part of a class curriculum.

The value of providing STEM education in libraries extends beyond the informal educational setting. It includes the opportunity for libraries to increase community collaboration and to garner support through their commitment to educational initiatives (Hopwood, 2012). It allows libraries to reach more people and the hone skills of library staff through using inquiry-based methods with youth patrons (Cox, 2012). By engaging in STEM programming with community partners, libraries demonstrate that they are more than a book repository."