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STEM Will Define Tomorrow’s Workforce: New ULC Resources Equip Libraries as 21st-Century Education Leaders

The Urban Libraries Council has published two robust new resources to empower all public libraries as STEM education leaders. ULC’s new Partners for Middle School STEM Strategic Playbook guides library teams in building successful programs and cross-sector partnerships to advance inclusive and robust STEM learning environments for low-income middle school youth. Complementing the Strategic Playbook, ULC’s Building the STEM Workforce: Quickstart Toolkit is designed to orient libraries who are new to this work with strategies for short-term, sustainable progress, as well as resources for deeper exploration.

“From education, to careers, to the economy – STEM is already a driving force for the future of 21st-century communities, and it won’t be slowing down any time soon. Yet, education institutions, including public libraries, have not kept up with the STEM needs of today’s youth,” said ULC President & CEO Susan Benton. “ULC’s new Strategic Playbook and Quickstart Toolkit are launchpads for helping libraries of all sizes step up as intentional and active STEM education leaders in order to build a more equitable future for everyone.”

These new resources expand on ULC’s Partners for Middle School STEM initiative, which launched in 2019 to identify new models for how libraries and other community leaders can better collaborate to strengthen STEM learning opportunities and engagement for local youth. Run in partnership with the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Sciences Institute and funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, this initiative focuses on reaching and engaging low-income “tweens” — who not only face disproportionate education barriers but are also at an age when establishing fundamental STEM skills is especially critical.

The Strategic Playbook, Quickstart Toolkit and Partners for Middle School STEM project were made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant LG-95-18-0025-18. For additional information, visit