The Accidental STEM Librarian: An Exploratory Interview Study with Eight Librarians

November 30th, 2013 | RESEARCH

Many libraries are now providing innovative science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities in their youth programs, including interactive exhibitions and hands-on workshops. What started some years ago as independent experiments has become a national movement. More and more libraries are responding to the need to increase science literacy and support 21st Century skills, such as critical thinking, by adding to STEM programs for patrons of all ages, from pre-school to adults. With the introduction of STEM into the library’s traditional programming, librarians need to evaluate the change in duties that may include taking on the role of a STEM educator. This includes implications for the broader field that provides the professional training for librarians. In what ways have STEM initiatives challenged librarians’ perspectives of their profession? What barriers and challenges have they faced on the job? We can learn from those librarians who have successfully initiated STEM programs in their library. We can draw on their experiences particularly in terms of how such programs have impacted the culture within their institutions. In order to answer these questions, evidence is taken from interviews with eight librarians some of whom have been involved with federally-funded projects, while others have developed STEM programs on their own. This small sample represents a broad perspective on these issues.


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Team Members

Space Science Institute, Contributor
Paul Dusenbery, Principal Investigator, Space Science Institute


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1010844
Funding Amount: 2495325

Related URLs

Full Text
STAR Library Education Network: A Hands-on Learning Program for Libraries and Their Communities


Audience: Educators | Teachers | General Public
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Research Brief | Research Products
Environment Type: Library Programs | Public Programs