Enhancing the Capacity for Rural Libraries to Engage the Public in Drought Science, Monitoring, and Adaptation
As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds innovative research, approaches and resources for use in a variety of settings. This specific project will advance new knowledge about the nature of and functions for rural libraries as informal STEM learning environments. Research will identify the social contexts and relational capabilities of libraries to acquire new scientific knowledge that exists externally and to integrate it into community knowledge-building and forums. The research outcomes should lead to actionable strategies for library and science communication practitioners about who and how to influence public engagement in citizen science drought monitoring. Furthermore, collaborations with these rural libraries will lead to new resources for rural communities and informal STEM education.
This project will focus on the design, development, and evaluation of informal science education programs and educational media for use in rural libraries in drought prone areas of the Great Plains. The target audiences include public librarians in rural communities of Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Colorado, as well as the general public (adults and children) they serve. The project goals are to leverage the professional skills and community knowledge of rural librarians to support local drought monitoring networks. The model prepares librarians to introduce citizen science processes and practices within the context of community dialogue and deliberation about drought. In collaboration with partners at the Community Collaborative for Rain, Hail, and Snow (CoCoRaHS), and the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), the project will increase public participation in citizen science and improve the communication of science-based knowledge about drought. The project deliverables include: (1) a professional development workshop series for rural librarians, (2) a drought infographic booklet and poster series, and (3) co-designed library programs for rural public audiences.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
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