Volume 29, Number 3, Fall 2007

"What's the Big Idea" in Delaware

Patty Langley, Delaware Division of Libraries

Twenty Delaware youth services librarians are currently participating in a four-year pilot from Mother Goose Programs at the Vermont Center for the Book (VCB). The project, funded by a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation, will introduce science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content and concepts into librarians’ practice in order to establish the public library as the site of ongoing, developmentally appropriate, standards-based STEM programming for young children and their families.

“What’s the Big Idea?” refers to the four STEM content areas of patterns and relationships, geometry and spatial sense, numbers and operations, and change over time. The selection of these four areas is based on National Research Council and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards appropriate for young children and also is consistent with Delaware state content and process standards for math and science.

Because the library does not often function as the site of ongoing STEM programming for children - and many librarians do not see themselves as capable of providing STEM programs - VCB has been providing the training and resources to the librarians in order to infuse STEM content and concepts into all aspects of library practice: programming, collection development, displays, newsletters, and bibliographies. The VCB approach is to create programs based on a combination of children’s literature and hands-on explorations which augment and support librarians’ strengths by adding mathematics and science content to their existing repertoire. In addition, family resource kits now available for parents and caregivers are designed for one-on-one use to introduce or reinforce STEM content.

The project has been very successful in the participating libraries. Librarians report an increase in attendance at programs designated as “What’s the Big Idea” with parents and caregivers specifically seeking out math and science programming.

For more information, contact Patty Langley.