Dartmouth College and the Association of Rural and Small Libraries will use a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to provide resources to rural librarians and libraries in an attempt to improve science-based learning opportunities for rural residents.
The project will specifically provide science, technology, engineering, and math resources to more than 100 libraries and help librarians connect with local science organizations to teach residents about STEM and improve science-literacy in rural populations.
“Libraries serve as a nexus of intellectual activity and social life in these communities,” Dan Rockmore, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Dartmouth, said in a press release. “Our goal is to make these libraries and librarians more comfortable with being places to learn science outside of school.”
Nationwide, rural libraries lag behind urban libraries in Internet bandwidth and technology staff. Access to books and libraries are often lacking in rural communities across the country, and some rural libraries in states like Alabama and Missouri have closed or are unable to offer programs and services due to a lack of funding.
According to a 2014 report, STEM education is lacking in rural areas. Federal data also found that graduates of rural schools are less likely than their non-rural peers to have completed a high school science sequence of classes, including biology, chemistry, and physics. Many rural schools also struggle to attract and retain science teachers, which may mean they are unable to offer certain science courses.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.