Good afternoon and welcome everyone to the Informal Library Youth Programs session of the Global STEMx Education Conference.
<introductions>My name is Jennifer Hopwood. I have a MLIS in Libraries and Information Studies as well as a BA in English and Education. Currently, I am the Training Coordinator at the Southern Maryland Regional Library Association. I am also a former youth services librarian from Florida’s Space Coast. It was as a librarian in Florida that I became involved in STEM. While I no longer work directly with children, I am still involved in the initiative through my participation in related conferences, trainings, publications, committees, and discussions.
Today we wanted to introduce to you a bit of what we are doing and have done in our libraries in regards to STEM. Part of this was through the building of partnerships with other community groups. We are also going to talk a little about how STEM can be incorporated into SRP 14’s themes from the collaborative library summer reading program. As well as some ways that STEM can be incorporated into your readers advisory. So why STEM at Libraries?
The answer is change. There is a parable used to illustrate change. They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant,and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting only the sudden changes. Both schools and libraries face a state where the only constant is change. Some of those changes have been gradual like the slowly heating water and others have been quick. Budgets are shrinking and many staff are performing multiple roles. It is time to stop sitting by and waiting for something to happen.
Incorporating STEM into libraries is a great way to align with national initiatives regarding STEM education. It shows stakeholders that we are partners in education. This is important when it comes to budget cuts and for fundraising efforts. STEM can be a bit of a buzz word today and many companies are joining efforts to show their support by providing funding for STEM related out of school programs, particularly those targeted at educating girls. It can also be a great way to highlight the other parts of our library collections. We will talk a little about this when we discuss readers advisory. The best part about incorporating STEM is that it shifts those paradigms regarding how people see libraries, particularly children’s departments. Through STEM programs, we can also increase our reach to the interests of those patrons who are not interested in craft programs or book discussions. Parent involvement in programs can increase as well not only because parents can lend their expertise, but also because the parent and child can learn together through engagement with the material. Library programs can introduce STEM concepts to parents while also showing that it is simple enough to do in the home as well. The one thing I noticed when I started incorporating STEM into my library programs was that I had a lot more fathers that were coming to my programs and more parents were also staying with their children throughout the program.
One of the reasons that it is so important that schools and libraries partner together is because of the benefits to that collaboration. By having schools partner with libraries, their reach can be extended beyond the classroom into afterschool programs and summer programs. Librarians can visit the classroom for outreach programs as well as sharing their connections for other free or low budget speakers. Sharing resources is another great benefit because in many cases libraries have larger collections and the ability to borrow additional materials from other systems. Libraries can also benefit from partnerships especially when submitting grant applications, again because of that focus on education funding. It is also another way to promote the services of the library to new or infrequent users. When we work together the kids are the real winners because we are doing the utmost to best serve their information needs.
Before we can start these partnerships, we must first determine what the roles are of this partnership. What is expected from each side? Have a specific goal in mind on what you want to accomplish. It is also important to consider the timing of a project. Schools and libraries are both busy, but there are times that are busier than others. It is especially important not to form a new partnership when you only have a limited time. It is not fair to either side and the output may not be the best that it could be. If there are materials that need to be gathered it is especially important to give each side time to gather those materials. Partnerships are also a two way street. There needs to be an equal balance of what each side is putting into the project. For example, a local business may donate food to a library program, but the library should take a moment at the program to thank that business for their sponsorship. Vice versa the business could put up a sign stating that they are a sponsor. This is a win-win for both sides. Volunteering time is sometimes just as important as donating a product. Think about forming partnerships with your local community college. Sometimes you also need to start small to test the waters. Not every relationship will work and sometimes small projects can lead to bigger support down the road. That is why it is important to reevaluate the roles and needs of a partnership for each project.
This is probably one of the most important parts about having a STEM program at your library. You need to make sure that your collection is up to date. Remember that we were talking about constant change. The STEM fields are no different and what we know today might be different tomorrow. Consider this…Pluto is no longer a planet. A good rule of thumb would be to limit your collection to nonfiction titles published within the last five years. However, there are always exceptions to this. It is best to look at titles individually based on content. Also consider how relevant your collection is to the children you serve. John Hersey, author of Hiroshima, once worked on a committee for his children’s school to determine why children were struggling at reading. The group’s discovery was that the reason the children were struggling was because they thought the primers they were reading looked boring. They didn’t want to read stories featuring illustrations of perfectly mannered children that just looked dull, insipid, and boring. This concept was what lead to the creation of the Catinthe Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. Using creative illustrations paired with rhyming site words as primers instead. Does your collection need an update not just on content, but how about condition? No parent wants to hand their child a smelly dirty book. They will also be hesitant to use a book with pages being held together with book tape and wishful thinking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.5 Explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types.
City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems is a sad tale about a dog who becomes friends with a frog that is always there until the seasons start to change and then the frog is gone. This is a great fiction title to introduce the concepts of seasons, but also life-cycles and is a great tie in for Gail Gibbons’ Frogs. So when you are paring fiction and non-fiction, the related concepts do not have to take center stage in the fiction title. Use it as an introduction.
Informal Library Youth Programs
Global STEMx Education
September 20, 2013
Southern Maryland Regional
St. Charles City-County Library District
LittleeLit.com Blog Manager
• Building Community Partnerships
• STEM @ the Library
• Summer of STEM
• Readers Advisory
• Helpful Resources
• National Initiatives
• Partners in Education
• Funding Opportunities
• Collection Promotion
• Paradigm Shifting
• More Parent Involvement!
Why STEM at the
STEM @ the Library:
Programming with Younger
STEM @ the Library:
Programming with Older Students
2014: The Summer of STEM
• Nation-wide Summer
• Children: Fizz, Boom, Read!
• Teens: Spark a Reaction!
Time to Weed!
• Publication Date > 5 years
• New Discoveries
• Outdated Technology
What a Great Pair!
Pair Non-Fiction Titles with Fiction
• Connects to Common Core State Standards for
• Enforces Concepts through Real-World
• Connects Relevancy to Own Lives
• Increases Comprehension
• Access point for readers of both types of
City Dog, Country Frog
By Mo Willems
Pre-School – Grade 1
By Gail Gibbons
By Megan Frazer Blakemore
10 Inventors Who Changed
By Clive Gifford
Readers Advisory Resource:
The Nonfiction Detectives
• Education Websites
• Social Media
– LinkedIn Group “STEM in Libraries”
The Show Me Librarian