Why Are Libraries Involved In…STEM?
I’m routinely asked why Delaware Libraries are involved in various topics, such as helping job seekers, supporting Entrepreneurship, assisting with healthy living, experimenting with STEM, and so on. The fact is, libraries have always supported all topic areas, and initially that support was through our book collections.
The Delaware State Library Commission marks 115 years in 2016, and over the past 115 years, formats, or containers for information have advanced and proliferated (such as print books, eMedia, audio, video, online tools, and more). In addition to collections for reading, libraries also offer experiences – computer and wireless internet access, workshops, programs, meet ups, and more – for hands on and shared learning. Libraries work with partners and experts in our communities to provide unique experiences that Delawareans might not have the opportunity to have otherwise.
My favorite STEM concept is “systems thinking,” which is epitomized in our statewide library infrastructure. The Delaware Library Consortium, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the launch this year, now includes 60 libraries, including all 33 public libraries. The DLC libraries share seamlessly 2.6 million books, eBooks, and much more through the Delaware Library Catalog (delawarelibraries.org). In FY2016 STEM related books were borrowed more than 360,000 times, including more than 4,600 eBook checkouts of STEM items in the popular and growing eMedia collection! The statewide library calendar showcases hundreds of library programs each month, including STEM activities.
STEM activities are routinely held in Delaware Libraries Inspiration Spaces, or mini-makerspaces, which are collaborative creative spaces where people can enthusiastically learn about and experiment with technology, entrepreneurship, and DIY activities. Learn about the tools and activities available at Delawarelibraries.org/IS and http://guides.lib.de.us/stem. The Delaware Aerospace Education Foundation and the Delaware Nature Society, two of our STEM partners, regularly conduct STEM programs in libraries throughout the state.
The latest technologies (3D printer) are amazing to Delawareans of all ages:
Colin Consavage shows Senator McDowell the prosthetic hand he made for himself using the 3D printer at the Wilmington Library:
Local farmer Keith Lohmeyer shares his engineering avocation with teens at the Bridgeville Public Library:
In partnership with DASEF, we’re seeking local astronomers and astrophysicists to help introduce new telescopes to the public!:
Delaware Libraries juggle, proudly, to support all possible learning opportunities for our communities. Libraries have evolved over the past 115 years, and in turn, we support Delawareans in learning – and renewal – throughout life.
Librarians are fascinated by – what fascinates you! And we’re here to help Delawareans discover a passion, explore curiosity, and achieve your versions of the Delaware Dream!
Dr. Annie Norman is State Librarian of Delaware, is a member of the Governor’s STEM Council, and is Chair of the Governor’s School Libraries Council. She was inducted in the Hall of Fame of Delaware Women in March.