STAR Library Education Network (STAR-Net) is one of several federally sponsored initiatives to bring STEM learning to public libraries. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and consists of interactive exhibits, education and outreach programs, and professional development opportunities for librarians and instructors.
While libraries have historically been a place to improve literacy skills through reading and gathering information about different subjects, STAR-Net’s goal is to bring informal STEM learning environments where individuals can learn by doing.
Through developing a network, STAR-Net also connects librarians with educators in schools as well as STEM professionals in various STEM fields. This emphasizes collaboration, which is crucial with STEM learning.
“We’re just not a place for dusty old books anymore,” said one librarian who took part in a study to investigate the effects of STEM learning in libraries. “The library has to be a vibrant place for the community to come to. It is not just to check out books, it’s for unique programming or programming that we can offer to enhance or be in collaboration with the schools or with businesses in town.”
In this way, STAR-Net and other programs like it are working to boost the effectiveness of libraries, fostering creative interaction to the community outside of school and the home to increase collaboration and the advancement of STEM learning.
Read the full study here: Public Libraries as Places for STEM Learning: An Exploratory Interview Study with Eight Librarians.