National Museum and Library Medal Winners Inspire “Makers” Across America

Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog. To view the original post, click here

By Nancy Weiss and Stephanie Santoso

Earlier this week, First Lady Michelle Obama presented the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Service to ten museums and libraries that are extraordinary agents of change in their communities. The medal, an award of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, recognizes the many ways these community institutions enhance civic engagement, promote economic vitality, and connect visitors to 21st-century teaching and learning. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, a Federal agency, is the primary source of Federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums.

Libraries and museums have long been centers for self-directed and participatory lifelong teaching and learning. Today, this often includes providing visitors with tools, technologies, and spaces to make and innovate, and to explore the diverse applications of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Several of the winners of the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Service demonstrate how libraries and museums around the country are providing resources and educational programming designed to help people meet the challenges and take advantage of opportunities of 21st-century working and living:

  • Craig Public Library (Craig, AK): The award for Craig Public Library, located on remote Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska, was accepted by library director Amy K. Marshall and eleven-year-old Colin Rice. Fascinated with computer coding and technology, Colin was determined to get a 3D printer on the island. When the school system couldn’t purchase one, the library said it would help. Colin helped build the machine and demonstrate its operation during a community-wide Pi-Einstein day. Craig Public Library also brings STEM learning and opportunities to its small community through youth programs such as weekly science camps, robotics with LEGOs, and maker events.

A 3D printer in action at the Craig Public Library.

  • The Tech Museum of Innovation (San Jose, CA): The Tech Museum of Innovation (The Tech) aims to inspire the innovator in everyone. Its signature program, the Tech Challenge, is one of the oldest engineering design competitions in California, challenging teams of students to solve real-world problems with creativity, critical-thinking and iterative designing, prototyping, and testing. The Tech is making STEM learning more accessible by supporting museum visits for more than 70,000 students from low-income schools and providing involved STEM experiences for about 21,500 underserved area students through hands-on technology labs. In Fall 2015, a new DIY genetics exhibit at The Tech will include a biology makerspace where visitors will be able to engage in bio-tinkering: they’ll be able to play with, design, and engineer synthesized DNA.

A young innovator participating in the
Tech Challenge. (Photo credit: Don Feria)

  • New York Hall of Science (Queens, NY): The award for the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) was accepted by CEO Dr. Margaret Honey and Maria Cortes Ruiz. Soon after she moved to the U.S. from Bogota, Colombia, Maria began working in the Science Career Ladder program at the NYSCI. The program allowed her to hone her English language skills while conducting science demonstrations for visitors and leading special maker activities. Says Maria, “Science is amazing because it explains everything… everything that you see that is beautiful in life.” Maria’s experience at the museum fostered her love for science and gave her the confidence to pursue a career in science. She is now working toward a chemical engineering degree at City College of New York. The New York Hall of Science is also home to World Maker Faire, which draws more than 130,000 people, including tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists and students.

Young scientists getting muddy as they learn about the
environment at NYSCI. (Photo credit: Andrew Kelly)

  • Los Angeles Public Library (Los Angeles, CA): The Los Angeles Public Library teams up with LA Makerspace to offer multigenerational literacy programs with a science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) twist in many of the library system’s 73 locations. The library’s “Full STEAM Ahead” program presents STEAM programs for preschoolers and school-aged children to help compensate for the scarcity of free and low-cost afterschool programs in those subjects in the LA Community.  The library also organizes fun, hands-on learning opportunities in community workshops that incorporate robotics, coding circuitry, stop-motion animation, citizen science and 3D printing.

On the LA Public Library website, families can
find workshops hosted by LA Makerspace.

These institutions and many other libraries and museums around the country are answering the President’s call at last year’s White House Maker Faire for “every company, every college, every community, every citizen to lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.” This year, the White House is hosting a Week of Making, June 12-18, that is aimed at engaging communities and organizations around the country in creating more opportunities for making that inspire students’ interest in STEM, arts and design, support maker entrepreneurs and encourage local manufacturing and workforce training.

We invite you to join us in congratulating all of the winners of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, and in getting excited for the upcoming Week of Making. In the meantime, tell us how you or your local library or museum are getting involved in our #NationOfMakers by tweeting @WhiteHouseOSTP or emailing us at

Nancy E. Weiss is Senior Advisor to the Chief Technology Officer at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Stephanie Santoso is Senior Advisor for Making at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Posted in National Medal for Museum and Library Service, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) | Leave a comment

The Impact of Summer Reading

By Michele Farrell
Senior Library Program Officer, IMLS

Every year, public libraries around the country offer summer reading programs. We know from anecdotal information that participants love them, but what is the real impact of these programs? The Library of Virginia is conducting a 33-month study to understand how children and teens use reading programs.  The library will examine how the programs influence reading skills, how they may have different impacts on various participants, and the long-term impact on reading outcomes.

The study is being done to assist Virginia public libraries with understanding the impact of their programs. There will be three reports. The first report, Impact of Virginia Public Libraries’ Summer Reading Program: Library of Virginia Year 1 Report (Good, Ho, & Fryman, 2014), covered how children participated, how many books they read, the reading levels of the books read, and whether participants were reading at or above their age level. The second report will examine the effects on reading outcomes, how those outcomes compare to nonparticipants, to what extent participation shows a gain or loss in reading ability compared to nonparticipants, and how the effects differ for readers by grade, gender, economic status, and English proficiency. The Library of Virginia is hosting a webinar on the second report. See details below to listen in.

The final report is scheduled for release in December 2015 and will cover what reading skills improved, whether the impact lasts more than one year, how many children participate for more than a year and their characteristics, and lastly, how reading outcomes differ between nonparticipants and those who participated for only one summer. The reports will be available on the Library of Virginia website. Caution should be used regarding any generalization of these results holding true for all summer reading programs.

For questions regarding the study and the webinars, please contact:

Enid Costley
Children’s and Youth Services Consultant
Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219

McREL has been conducting the study and we invite you to hear the findings.

The findings will be shared via webinar on May 19 at 11:00 a.m. EST and again on May 20 at 2:00 p.m. You may register to attend one of the webinars. After you complete the registration, you will be given access information.

May 19 at 11:00 a.m. EST register at:

May 20 at 2:00 p.m. EST register at:

Posted in Afterschool/Out-of-School, Early Learning, Education Support, Grants to State Library Administrative Agencies | Leave a comment

Digital Infrastructure Supporting Long Term Access at the CNI 2015 Spring Meeting

By Trevor Owens
Senior Library Program Officer, IMLS

I was thrilled to be able to participate in this year’s spring meeting of the Coalition of Networked Information in Seattle. The event brought together a range of leaders working on digital library tools, services, and platforms. Across a range of projects, I saw the kinds of broad collaborations between libraries and other kinds of organizations to develop, deploy, and manage digital infrastructure that fit quite well with the IMLS national digital platform priority. I wanted to share a bit about some of the sessions and highlight some of the work in this area that IMLS is supporting.

Cooperative Community-Anchored Collecting & Access
In the opening keynote, Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive described some of the diversity of programs at the Internet Archive; its web archiving work and tools, as well as its work with digital and other audio music, books, and software. A theme that emerged across all these examples was the critical value that develops from libraries working and collecting together and pooling their efforts. In a world where libraries are increasingly leasing access to content, the Internet Archive has engaged projects to support libraries’ continued building of collections and enduring access, Brewster noted.

Advances in Software Preservation & Access
One of the keys to long-term access to digital information is figuring out how to run old software. Keith Webster, Dean of Libraries at Carnegie Mellon University, and Euan Cochrane, Digital Preservation Manager from Yale University Libraries, presented two related projects that are providing access to legacy software through virtualization and emulation. Keith presented on work of the Olive Executable Archive (funded by a 2012 IMLS National Leadership Grant and a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation). Euan described a series of use cases for accessing old software at Yale, where he is making use of the open source bwFLA Emulation as a Service platform created at the Universität Freiburg. For more on Euan’s work, see a post he wrote about some of these cases on the Library of Congress digital preservation blog.

Aggregating and Sharing Data about Research Products
In an update on the SHARE (Shared Access Research Ecosystem) project, Judy Ruttenberg of the Association of Research Libraries and Jeff Spies of the Center for Open Science announced the launch of a public beta of the SHARE Notify platform. In this beta phase, this platform brings together data from more than 30 different repositories and resources, offers an interface to research activity across these areas, and provides access to them through an API. Work on SHARE Notify is jointly funded by IMLS and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Discussion in this session focused on the potential role platforms like this could play in supporting academic librarians as curators of the full range of scholarly output of colleges and universities.

Interoperable Image Framework Applied to Digitized Manuscript Collections
In a session titled Annotated Manuscripts in the IIIF Environment: Enhancing Scholarship and Creating Communities, Stephen Nichols, Tamsyn Rose-Steel, and Sayeed Choudhury from Johns Hopkins University presented on their work to use the International Interoperable Image Framework (IIIF) to develop use cases to support scholars’ use of digitized medieval manuscript collections. The presenters shared their perspectives on the potential for the technology and their vision for how, going forward, IIIF can support new ways for communities of scholars to engage with, annotate, and interpret these manuscripts.

Building the Business Case for Linked Data In Libraries
In “BIBFLOW: A Roadmap for Library Linked Data Implementation,” MacKenzie Smith and Carl Stahmer of University of California Davis and Eric Miller of Zepheria presented on their work to prototype and implement a linked data native infrastructure for cataloging and managing records at the UC Davis library. They shared a demo of how the tools work, focusing on how the resulting work has the potential to make cataloging much more efficient. Discussion in the session focused on the range of areas of descriptive work that these increased efficiencies could enable catalogers at research libraries to engage in. The BIBFLOW project is supported by a 2013 IMLS National Leadership Grant.

Shared Collaborative Infrastructure and Services For Libraries
Through these sessions, and many others, it is clear that broad-based collaborations around increasingly open digital infrastructure are making significant strides in the library community. Institutions are coming together, identifying common needs, and working to address them together.

Posted in Collections Care/Preservation, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy) | Leave a comment