Through a program called “NASA at My Library” facilitated through STARnet, NASA is reaching out to underserved populations across the US via the libraries that serve them.
The goal is to enrich lifelong learning with NASA themed activities based on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) initiatives. To date, 78 libraries are implementing this project, including Bothell and Anacortes here in Washington.
But for NASA’s big-picture goal, that’s not enough. The next phase is to utilize the resources and know-how of state libraries that have experience with circulating STEAM kits.
The Washington State Library, along with agencies in North Dakota, South Carolina, and Michigan, is taking part in the pilot phase of the project. Each library will circulate specially-crafted kits from STARnet, monitor their effectiveness, maintain the contents, and suggest improvements. Two more kits will be added to the mix over the next two years, and 10 more library systems will join the program after its first year.
To prepare for this great opportunity, there were several online meetings plus three days of training and brainstorming in Denver, Colorado. Highlights included learning about the telescope that’s slated for kit two, and participating in the bonus workshop on Astro Materials at the mindSpark Learning Center facilitated by staff from the Johnson Space Center.
The hours of round-table discussions between state library representatives and STARnet folks truly set the framework for launch.
With the first kit arriving imminently here at the Washington State Library, librarians across the state should watch soon for announcements on how to bring this NASA-sponsored program to local users!
— by Joe Olayvar, information technology consultant for Washington State Libraries