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A Vision for Libraries, 20 Years in the Making

Cornerstones of Science founder Lee Grodzins is an inventor, an MIT professor emeritus of physics, and cofounder of the Union of Concerned Scientists. In 1999, he initiated the award-winning Cornerstones of Science program in partnership with the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, Maine. Since then, Cornerstones has evolved into a nonprofit organization backed by an expert board of directors, a dedicated staff, and a growing network of more than 300 public libraries around the country.

Public libraries: Trusted advocates for STEM learning

Science literacy is declining in America, and engaging the public in informal science learning, through public libraries, works to address this critical issue. Cornerstones is on a mission to partner with public libraries across America to strengthen their ability to connect patrons to important science-based community issues and interests, such as health, sustainability, astronomy, water quality and conservation, and climate change.

Our nation is home to only a small handful of science centers and aquariums. However, there are roughly 9,000 public libraries with 17,000 branches. Cornerstones is working with librarians and scientists to help libraries transform themselves into the primary place for youth, adults, and families to engage in interesting and locally relevant science experiences. Cornerstones helps libraries fill this vital role by providing turnkey kits, training, and resources needed to create a scientifically literate public.

Programs that connect communities with science

Cornerstones’ products and services are designed in partnership with public libraries. Together we create places and approaches that help connect patrons and communities with STEM experiences and science providers of local interest and importance.

Our current offerings include programs, training, and online resources.

The Cornerstones Model is a comprehensive package that combines workbooks and guides with in-person and virtual training to help librarians develop the skills they need to connect their communities through science.

The Loanable Library Telescope Program trains librarians and local astronomer mentors to put user-friendly telescopes in the hands of children and families. More than 50,000 people have been able to borrow telescopes, just as they would borrow a book, through 300 libraries in 22 states.

Online digital resources like the STEM Activity Clearinghouse provides librarians with free, vetted, engaging STEM activities and speakers appropriate for library audiences.

Recognizing the growing demand for science literacy in libraries

Cornerstones is recognized as a go-to source for high-quality, turnkey science products, training, and services that increase a library’s ability to deliver engaging and sustainable science programs.

Over $1 million in highly competitive federal grants awarded by NASA, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the National Science Foundation recognize the importance of this work.

Strategic partnerships with state library agencies accelerate libraries’ adoption of Cornerstones’ products and services, and reach across the nation.

Cornerstones@Berkeley, first branded “Cornerstones@” site. The public library is a science resource center and demonstration site that engages patrons and the community in science programs. This highly successful partnership has galvanized a cadre of science advocates within the Berkeley Public Library and surrounding scientific community.

Cornerstones of Science is celebrating its 20-year anniversary throughout 2019

Please let Cornerstones know if you have a “Cornerstones story” or experience that you would like to share. Did you have a fun experience with a science trunk activity or library telescope, did you attend one of our Library Partner Summit events and have a memorable moment, or did you have a conversation about Cornerstones with Lee or board or staff member that was inspiring? We hope to hear from you and THANK YOU for all your support over these many years!