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Unit Three
Libraries as Community Resources for ISL

Our focus in Unit Two was on developing an understanding of informal STEM learning (ISL). Now let’s consider how you can use that understanding to build your library’s role and its recognition as an ISL resource for your community. 

In this unit you will:

  • Consider the functions and roles of your library as a community resource that fosters ISL
  • Identify some of your community’s STEM interests that will help you make your programs relevant
  • Determine the potential benefits and challenges of expanding your library’s capacity as an ISL resource
  • As you saw when you viewed the Pushing the Limits public program videos, each program focuses on a broad science theme. To learn more about how the themes are presented and explored in videos and books, read the Guide to Pushing the Limits Themes.arrows
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Now, let’s take a look at how the Pushing the Limits program series can help increase your library’s role as an ISL resource, by building on your community’s interests.

  • As you watch the video, note how the programs can be adapted to topics and issues of particular interest to your community. Think about ways that the program series’ themes of Knowledge, Connection, Nature, and Survival might resonate in your community.

Unit Three, Video One
Customizing Pushing the Limits for Your Community


  • What kinds of interests do people in your community have? How might you be able to build on those interests to customize your Pushing the Limits programs? Download the document Pushing the Limits Themes and My Community and jot down some of your thoughts. arrow icons
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We all know that library programs have benefits and, at times, challenges – and ISL programs are no exception. Some of those challenges might be: generating community interest in the programs, helping people get comfortable talking about science, and finding enough common ground to stimulate good discussions. 

The design of Pushing the Limits takes these possible challenges into consideration and provides a good “on-ramp” for ISL library programs. The second video in this unit highlights some of these program design features.

Unit Three, Video Two
Program Design



Pushing the Limits provides multiple entry points for people to talk about STEM topics. Plus, it helps to break down stereotypes of science as inaccessible to the average person, and it unlocks opportunities for community engagement around STEM topics. In the process, your library becomes a center and catalyst for civic discourse about STEM issues in your community. 

View the next video to see how STEM topics are presented in ways that are likely to engage adults in your community.

Unit Three, Video Three
Everyone’s a Scientist


How will the Pushing the Limits program series help to make your library an excellent venue for ISL? 


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