STEM Learning in Libraries: A National Conference on Needs, Opportunities, and Future Directions

September 1st, 2014 - August 31st, 2015 | PROJECT

As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds innovative resources for use in a variety of settings. This project, "STEM Learning in Libraries: A National Conference on Needs, Opportunities, and Future Directions," brings together libraries, informal educators and STEM education and research organizations to discuss the role of libraries in STEM out-of-school time (OST) education, share existing programs, define library needs, and develop a research and evaluation agenda. To date, there has not been systematic exploration of the ways that STEM programming occurs in libraries nor of their effectiveness when they do happen. This will be the first conference of its kind and stands to have a high degree of visibility and the potential for broad impact. Principal Investigator Paul Dusenbery, Director of the National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) and Executive Director of Space Science Institute, will lead an experienced project team that includes Co-PI Keliann LaConte, Lunar Planetary Institute; Susan Brandehoff, Public Programs Office, American Library Association; and Anne Holland, NCIL. The conference sessions will be organized around four strands: (1) showcasing successful STEM programs and reviewing research and evaluation results on informal STEM learning in public libraries; (2) examining the current needs, barriers, and opportunities of public libraries; (3) elucidating the possible future roles of public libraries in the 21st Century; and (4) identifying promising practices and strategies. Beginning with core members comprised of the project team and organizing committees, the project will create a Leadership Forum for library directors, library science educators, and policy makers, as well as STEM professionals and educators. Conference results will be disseminated through a wide variety of organizational websites: NCIL, ALA, LPI, the conference website, the STAR_Net online community, and CAISE. In 2010, there were nearly 1.6 billion visits to 17,000 public libraries. Library audiences are true reflections of the nation's population - they serve all races, ages, economic backgrounds, and regions of the country. The STEM Learning in Libraries conference will give public libraries, STEM organizations, informal educators, and funders an opportunity to begin a dialogue with implications for profoundly impacting the attitudes of millions of Americans toward STEM topics.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products
A Bibliography of Key Papers and Reports Related to STEM Learning in Libraries
The Science Learning Ecosystem
Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums: Case Studies in Collaboration
Expect More: Why Libraries Cannot Become STEM Educators
"Collective Impact" and STEM Learning: Joining Forces to Make a Difference in Communities
Engaging Audiences Underrepresented in STEM Fields
2015 Public Libraries & STEM Conference Evaluation: Final Report
STEM Learning in Public Libraries: New Perspectives on Collaboration from a National Conference

Team Members

Paul Dusenbery, Principal Investigator, Space Science Institute
Keliann LaConte, Co-Principal Investigator, Lunar and Planetary Institute


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1413783
Funding Amount: 249346


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Engineering | General STEM | Mathematics | Technology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Conferences | Library Programs | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Public Programs