STEM Learning in Libraries

For decades, public libraries have been evolving to become venues for informal science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, hosting programs and exhibits that inspire children and adults alike, and supporting them in their lifelong learning. Libraries serve diverse populations of all ages and backgrounds, and can be found in nearly every community across the United States. This page provides a brief overview of resources on InformalScience.org that describe and support the intersection between libraries and STEM learning, as well as links to other relevant resources and communities.

Discover Tech Exhibit

Search the Repository

The InformalScience.org repository is a collection of descriptions of funded awards from various federal agencies, research and reference materials (including grey literature such as conference presentations), and evaluation reports related to STEM learning outside the classroom. The repository is a starting point for conducting literature reviews, strengthening grant proposals, learning about best practices, and developing evidence-based projects and programs.

In order to filter your search to library-specific resources, use the Advanced Search option on the homepage, and under the Environment field, select “Library Exhibits” or “Library Programs.” You may also consider selecting “Making and Tinkering Programs,” which also occur in a variety of settings including libraries, museums, and other community spaces.

Examples of Funded Projects

These are some abstracts of projects funded by agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). To learn more about funding opportunities and deadlines, visit the Funding and Calendar pages.

Key Resources

The following papers explore the role of public libraries in the STEM learning ecosystem.

Evaluation

Evaluation is a set of approaches and techniques used to make judgments about the effectiveness or quality of a program or treatment; to improve its effectiveness; and to inform decisions about its design, development, and implementation (National Research Council 2010). It can also be used to help make the case to funders about the effectiveness of specific programs or interventions. You can learn more using the Design Evaluation tab on InformalScience.org, visit the STAR Library Education Network’s evaluation page, or see evaluation in action by browsing the following evaluation reports from library projects.

STEM Activity at the ALA Conference

Professional Associations, Networks, & Communities of Practice

Connect with the following organizations and communities of practice in order to deepen your expertise, learn from colleagues in the field, and build your professional network.

See Also


Photo Credits: Discover Tech Exhibit – Hunstville, AL. Credit: NCIL/SSI, Discover Earth Exhibit – Diboll, TX. Credit: NCIL/SSI, STEM Activity at the ALA Conference. Credit: NCIL/SSI.