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San José Public Library, CA

Contact: Elizabeth Castañeda,

Community Partners: TechShop San José, CreaTV San José, San José State University, Bellarmine College Preparatory, Notre Dame High School


Many of modern civilization’s most profound developments were initiated here in San Jose and Silicon Valley, and were the result of someone with an idea in mind and the ability to bring it to life.  More than ever, people here are harnessing that legacy, breaking out of the role of consumer and becoming creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs.  The concept of Library is expanding from a place for consumption of information and media, to a place for self-directed and peer-assisted learning, creation, invention, and entrepreneurship. Hands-on technology learning can expose disenfranchised youth and adult residents to opportunities to develop skills and access the hardware and software industries that are booming around them in the Silicon Valley.    Thus, the San Jose Public Library (SJPL) has created STEAMstacks maker programs that combine reading, showing and making and that emphasize science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM).  While STEAMstacks encourages local community engagement, it is also part of a new international movement fostering creative, social thinking and life-long learning through making.  SJPL intends to be a key node in that connected learning network and incorporate its capabilities into the community’s overall knowledge infrastructure.


SJPL’s STEAMstacks maker program offers patrons access to 3-D printers, circuit design workshops, coding classes, e-textile crafts, and more. Patrons have begun to take advantage of these resources and are walking out of the library with new skills that can lead to success in school, career, self-expression and entrepreneurship. Another key outcome, by partnering with public and private-sector organizations, it is SJPL’s hope to foster the spirit of maker culture here in the region.   STEAMstacks highlights include:

  • Innovate, Discover, Create: Spark Your Maker Mentality!, a program that featured hands-on digital storytelling and music video production, 3-D printing basics, dog tag-engraving, innovative dessert decorations and leather mask-making, among other activities. The event also included a demonstration of dueling Frisbee-throwing robots, designed by the award-winning high school student teams.
  • Coding for Kids. Using Scratch, a simple coding program, kids learn coding basics.  Also, the class will introduces them to, where stories, animation, and games are developed. The program is suitable for children in grades 3-5. 
  • Girls Who Code. To end the gender gap in technology, this program exposes and educates girls in computer science. Girls learn computer science fundamentals by programming apps and video games and going on field trips to real world companies and are tutored by a professional computer scientist from Google. The program is for girls grades 9-12.
  • Bots for Fun. This FREE Lego Robotics Class is a six-week program will teaches how to build robots using Lego Mindstorm NXT and program them to obey commands. The program is targeted to 4th-7th Graders.