Fostering the Development of Rural Librarians
as Informal Science Facilitator
The Rural Gateways: Fostering the Development of Rural Librarians as Informal Science Facilitators project builds on a previous National Science Foundation-funded collaboration between Dartmouth College, CALIFA, Dawson Media, and the Institute for Learning Innovation called Pushing the Limits: Building Capacity to Enhance Public Understanding of Math and Science Through Rural Libraries. Both projects are designed to develop rural libraries and librarians into informal STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning centers. The first project reached more than 100 libraries and the new project aims to involve another 110 by providing them with multi-media STEM materials in a book club-science café format and connecting them with local science partners. Both projects target librarians and adult library patrons in small towns and rural areas where access to science education opportunities is often limited. The Institute for Learning Innovation has served as the main research partner on both projects. For Rural Gateways, the Institute is focusing on better understanding the self-efficacy of rural librarians with regards to facilitating adult science programs. Given that most librarians were trained primarily as reactive information resources rather than as proactive education providers, understanding what the current professional self-perceptions and confidence levels of rural librarians are related to this new and very different role provides a fundamental foundation for the work of the project.