Interview: Kansas State Library

Jo Budler, State Librarian, State Library of Kansas

Jo Budler, State Librarian, State Library of Kansas

IMLS staff interviewed state librarians to discuss how their new five-year plans for LSTA Grants to States funds (2013-2017) differ from their past plans (2008-2012), and how they see the needs of library users in their states changing and evolving. This post is part of a series and features IMLS Senior Library Program Officer Michele Farrell interviewing State Librarian Joanne Budler. Read more about the Kansas State Library’s priorities in IMLS’ state profile for Kansas.

 

Michele: What were the three most important community needs you sought to address through library services between 2008 and 2012?

Jo: One thing that was huge for us was the e-book situation. E-books became such a high demand service, and then we had the problem of how were we going to provide that service. Another thing was e-content in general, in the form of databases. From genealogy to children’s databases, they meet people’s needs at various times in their lives and under various conditions. We also have the Learning Express Library database, which has a whole section on computer skills.

The other thing that came to the forefront for us was the Ready to Read issue. We had a new governor in 2010, and one of his priorities was to have fourth graders reading at fourth grade level. We really feel that it has to happen before fourth grade, and well before the child is even in school. We know the need was there before, but it’s gotten a lot more attention since 2010, so we’ve used some money from IMLS to address that issue.

A child sits at a computer

A Kansas public library AWE station to build early digital literacy skills.

 

Michele: How did the evaluation of programs and initiatives developed for the 2008-2012 cycle affect your state plans for the 2013-2017 cycle? 

Jo: We did look at the evaluation to see if any of these programs needed to be tweaked. We also looked at the evaluation to see if programs were successful, and especially if they were valued by the library community. The evaluation also had focus groups connected with it, and we used some of that input to determine what was important for the future. The problem is that a lot of times people are so busy looking at the past that they don’t think beyond those existing programs. Our challenge is identifying future needs and what we are going to do to address them, and it’s hard to project what’s going to come down the pike in the future. For instance, how do we get information to people on their mobile devices? I’m afraid we’re already reactionary with that, rather than anticipating the need and being ready for it. So the evaluation helps us, but it also hinders us in a way, because it means that people are looking back rather than forward.

 

Michele: What are the three most important community needs you plan to address through library services in the next five years? 

Jo: I think the mobile device opportunity is one of them, but there is also a real gap between our older, more rural residents and 21st century skills. There are residents that are being left behind, and we need to make sure that they are able to fully participate in the 21st century. So we’re going to be addressing digital literacy from a very early stage, like how to use a mouse.

The poverty in our state is urban as well as rural. We do have a goal to address childhood poverty, but it’s not just getting the kids out of poverty, it’s getting the families out of poverty. It ties in with digital literacy, workforce development, and the mobile devices as well. So in terms of the three most important community needs, I think of them as a big Venn diagram. It’s not just three big pods, but three overlapping pods, so that in talking about digital literacy and mobile devices and poverty, it’s all connected.

We’re going to continue to have the Learning Express Library, and through communications with the Commerce Department, which has our One-Stop job center, and also the labor secretary, I think we’re going to be promoting that a lot more. The other LSTA-funded database will focus on nursing, because we need that for accreditation in our four-year and two-year colleges. We have a lot of pockets in the state that don’t have any nurses, so we’re trying to grow our own.

Then there’s the Ready to Read issue. I think that if we want to end childhood poverty, we have to get the kids early on to become lifelong learners, because that’s what is going to make them successful later in life. I want to put Grants to States funds toward that, because that will have the most positive long-term effect.

Posted in 21st Century Skills, Early Learning, Education Support, Grants to State Library Administrative Agencies, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy), Lifelong learning/ Intergenerational, Workforce Development/Job Assistance | Leave a comment

Improving Education for All Students with 3D Printing

Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted on Benetech’s Blog. To view the original post, click here.

By Anh Bui
Director of Product Strategy, Global Literacy Program
Director, DIAGRAM Center

We are delighted to share that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded Benetech a 2014 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant to explore new ways in which 3D printing technology in libraries and museums can be used to improve learning and accessibility in a range of educational contexts.

IMLS_Logo_2cThis grant will help us address a core issue in education: access to spatial concepts that are increasingly important, especially in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Imagine sitting in your high school or college anatomy class, learning about the structure of the inner ear. You open your textbook on the assigned page, read the introductory text, and get ready to work. The only problem is… the images of the inner ear aren’t available to you! And even if they are, the complex twists and turns of the inner ear’s structure are difficult to grasp.

A significant number of educational materials, especially in the STEM disciplines, are heavily visual and complex, and students are asked to gain much of their information from resources such as charts, graphs, diagrams, maps, photographs, and other images. This content poses challenges for students with visual impairments and others who may have difficulty processing visual information. Some of this content is best conveyed with a 3D object that a student can explore tactually. The good news is that the rise of 3D printing as a technology increasingly available to teachers, schools, and their communities now presents a tremendous opportunity to offer all students better ways of understanding spatial concepts.

At Benetech, our Global Literacy Program has been exploring how 3D printing technology can be applied to create accessible educational materials. This exploration has been part of the DIAGRAM Center’s research into technologies that could help make visual content accessible. We are examining various means to that end, including text description, haptic interfaces, tactile graphics, as well as 3D printing.

A 3D printer at the Chattanooga Public Library

3D printing, Chattanooga Public Library. Photo by Larry Miller, CC BY-NC

Based on our preliminary examination, we believe that 3D printing has an enormous potential to significantly improve access to spatial and visual information—and to enhance STEM education for all students. Furthermore, the significant advances made by the library and museum communities in the space of 3D printing and education well position them to become hubs of local 3D printing resources for teachers and students. We are therefore thrilled to have the opportunity to seek new ways in which 3D printing can improve the STEM education landscape with support of a 2014 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Over the next year, we will:

  • Explore how existing and upcoming 3D printing programs in libraries and museums across the country can help overcome technology and resource challenges, so that 3D printing can be applied to improve STEM education for students with disabilities.
  • Create several resources, including a Quick Start Guide for educators and maker spaces, and a small collection of 3D printable models optimized for classroom use.
  • Hold a National Forum on the intersection of 3D printing, libraries and museums, and accessible education. This Forum will bring together over thirty experts in these fields to survey and understand existing efforts, design a partnership model with key stakeholder groups, and propose metrics for additional projects in this area.

We are very excited about the impact this project can achieve. We believe that our multi-pronged approach—including exploring a distributed network of resources in existing community maker spaces, creating a 3D model collection, and providing training resources in 3D printing technology—will help us take a big step towards making 3D models more available, discoverable, and usable in a variety of educational settings. Together with the DIAGRAM community, Benetech has already created a model for effective collaboration that we believe will be of great help as we take on this new initiative.

I look forward to growing our community of stakeholders and advancing better ways to ensure that all students get the educational materials they need to succeed at school and beyond. I hope you join us!

Posted in Accessibility, Afterschool/Out-of-School, Education Support, Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) | Leave a comment