STEM in the Library

In my rather humble experience of high school library settings, I’d like to make some observatory statements about the teachers who use library spaces with students.

  • the library is often viewed by many as a conveniently sized location to organise grade or large group meetings, thus restricting its use as a learning centre
  • for learning purposes, the library is used mostly by specific faculties and even more predominantly by certain teachers within those faculties (perhaps those with a personal affinity to libraries).
  • library usage is dominated by HSIE teachers, especially history or studies of society, and to a lesser extent, English and language teachers.
  • STEM subjects almost never utilise the library as a learning space, unless for incursions (which are, of course, still valuable learning experiences).

I am not surprised that I do not see Mathematics or Industrial Arts classes in the library. I am surprised that Science teachers rarely utilise the space, as from my admittedly limited knowledge of the Science syllabus, I am fairly certain that there is ample opportunity to engage students in resource based learning relevant to syllabus content.

Traditionally (perhaps it has something to do with the books), school libraries are associated with reading, literacy, and history (resource based subject). In more recent years, technology has taken a greater focus as many libraries increase access to information in the digital environment. This is beginning to decline slightly, the focus shifting from the provision of desktop machines to that of free wifi and powerpoints, thus catering to the many users are looking to access information easily on their portable devices.

Meanwhile, there is a recent push in education for greater focus on STEM skills. Libraries are rising to the challenge, with the explosion of discussions on makerspaces, coding workshops and augmented reality apps that are enhancing critical thinking, problem solving, contsruction and creation.

I recognise I am over-generalising, and therein lies my greatest problem. I am a relatively tech-savvy teacher librarian, with a background in English, history and society and culture. I was an avid library user. But how do I initiate some of these amazing ideas, and encourage more proactive library use by our STEM-based faculties, with such limited STEM knowledge as I possess?

My plan of action is as follows:
Firstly, I read (or continue to read) the abundance of resources and discussions on the topics of STEM skills, makerspaces, coding and augmented reality in the library.
Secondly, I hunt for relevant professional development to expand my knowledge in this area, and hopefully fill in some of the gaps.
Thirdly, I seek out colleagues from STEM-based faculties and share with them my ideas, seek their input, guidance and (hopefully) assistance in cementing and implementing some of these ideas!

Idealistic enough? I can do this when working two days, part-time, surely? I can certainly try, and at the very least, begin laying foundations.


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