STEM literacy is key to many jobs and vital to making informed decisions. Yet STEM literacy in the United States continues to lag behind that of other countries. Public libraries are ideal environments to foster STEM literacy—particularly for groups that lack access to high-quality STEM educations. Located in almost every community, they reach people of all ages, races, and socio-economic backgrounds. Yet many libraries lack the resources and support they need to support STEM learning.
To advance the awareness of effective strategies for promoting STEM learning through public libraries, EDC is leading an evaluation of the NASA@ My Library project (NaML). Led by the Space Science Institute (SSI), the American Library Association (ALA), and their partners, NaML provides public libraries with STEM activity kits and training to engage communities in STEM.
EDC is working on the following activities:
- Document how 130 libraries in 45 U.S. states use NaML resources and assess the impact of their use on library staff and programming
- Evaluate the impact of NaML activities on library patrons
- Study implementation of innovative library programs that virtually connect NASA scientists and near-peer students with library patrons
- Develop a guide for public libraries regarding how to conduct Community Dialogues to better understand and serve their communities
- Document circulation of STEM activity kits through 18 state library agencies
Findings from the evaluation are providing:
- New insights into how public libraries can engage patrons in STEM, especially those from groups underrepresented in STEM
- Guidance that public libraries can use to develop online programs
- Guidance for public libraries regarding how to conduct Community Dialogues to better understand and serve their communities
Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning, American Library Association, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Cornerstones of Science