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Adults Need STEM, Too: An Assessment of One Public Library’s Experiment With STEM Programming for Adults

By Jennifer Wilhelm
Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University University Libraries
and Jessica Jones
Branch Manager, Bryan + College Station Public Library System

Abstract

In 2016, the Bryan + College Station Public Library System received a $1,000 grant to conduct informal STEM programs for adults. The library’s stated goals were to encourage lifelong learning and civic engagement through informal STEM programs, increase and diversify adult program attendance, and strengthen ties to both the local university and the community. In addition, we wished to promote the idea of libraries as safe spaces for controversial topics; in this case, climate change. This article will examine the experience of developing, promoting, and executing an informal STEM program for adults. The resulting three-part program was divided into book club and science café portions, and was partially facilitated by a science partner. The goals were reached and surpassed, with the resulting increase in adult attendance and positive reaction to a climate change program encouraging the system to increase its STEM-based offerings for adults.

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