How public libraries support STEM

A fascinating insight into programmes being run in public libraries around the world.

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For countries to thrive in a knowledge-based economy, their workforces need strong skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (often referred to as STEM skills – or sometimes STEAM skills to include the Arts).

It was this interest in the unique position of public library services to support communities in the development of skills that brought 100 public library leaders from around the world to a conference in Sydney Australia in the Spring of 2017.  Now a report by the Australian Public Library Alliance and the Australian Library and Information Association explores a range of these initiatives and programmes. These include:

A Medialab and Fab Lab for Quebec, Canada

In 2017 the Brossard Public Library launched the Fab Lab12, a new digital learning space for its entire community.  The focus is on learner empowerment and common spaces for engagement and connection between people as well as access to high tech equipment including 3D printers, laser cutter, digital sewing machine, vinyl and paper cutter, hot press, electronic and computer components - and much more.

A Digital Arena in Bergen, Norway

Here the aim is to turn the library into an arena of learning, debates and digital tech experiences. The library hosts code clubs for children, refugees and immigrants as well as a hosting a separate Girl Tech Party. 

The Little Bang Discovery Club in Sydney, Australia

Targeted at the very youngest children, the club also encourages parents/carers to participate in the activities.  The programme aims to develop knowledge and skills that inspire early scientific exploration, discovery and learning – the hallmarks of critical thinking and innovation. The programme combines hour-long hands on sessions with a take-home Discover box.

The report is available here https://www.alia.org.au/sites/default/files/How%20public%20libraries%20contribute%20to%20the%20STEM%20agenda%202017.pdf

It is full of great examples of the full range of programmes being designed and delivered by public libraries.