STEM Equity Framework Project

Frequently Asked Questions about the STEM Equity Pilot Library Program


This page provides responses to the questions libraries have about this pilot effort. It will be continuously updated to ensure that library directors have the information they need in a timely manner. Please send your questions to

Q1: What is the STEM Equity Framework Project?

The STEM Equity Framework: Building Equitable, Inclusive Library Services That Address Community Needs project is an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program funded initiative. It has three core components:

  • The development, testing, and refinement of the STEM Equity Framework
  • A suite of professional development experiences, including eight training modules, live subject matter expert presentations, pilot library peer discussions, guides and toolkits, and state library and project team support throughout the pilot.
  • Communications such as newsletters, state library listservs and discussion groups, and conferences where the state and public library community can provide their insights and input into the STEM Equity Framework and recommend the type of professional development opportunities library directors would like to have to promote STEM Equity in their libraries.

Q2: What organizations, state and public libraries are involved in the project?

The STEM Equity Framework project is led by Cornerstones of Science, the Institute of Innovative Learning, the University of Missouri School of Library and Information Science, OCLC/WebJunction, and three state library agencies (CT, ID, and MD). In addition, a Project Advisory Panel engages public libraries, five state libraries, informal science experts, and other library professionals.

Q3: Why is the STEM Equity Project focusing on library directors?

STEM Equity can only be achieved within the library culture and serve as a catalyst in the community if the library director believes in the vision to outwardly connect members of the public to community needs and increase access to services and resources that are of interest and concern to them and their families. The STEM Equity project provides library directors with the opportunity to reflect on their vision and the factors that drive their operational decision-making. Working with community leaders and the public, the library will refine its services and increases access to those not using the library. Using the STEM Equity Framework as a guide, library directors will participate in professional development experiences designed to allow them to explore these core themes:

  • Individual Perspectives and Leadership Towards Equity, Inclusion and Access
  • Organizational Culture
  • Community Engagement
  • Community Member Experience

Q4: What is the anticipated time commitment of the library director and others involved in the pilot?

It is anticipated that a pilot library will contribute 5+ hours per month over a nine-month period. The library director will play an active role and will lead the effort for their library. Each pilot library will form a STEM Equity Leadership Team comprised of library staff, local government officials, and representatives from organizations addressing science-based issues in the community. It will include members of the public that are not using the library and are in most need of those services and resources. Other members of the team will also contribute 5+ hours/month. No in-person travel is required. Libraries will participate in project activities through virtual/electronic communication methods (e.g., Zoom calls, telephone, email, etc.).

Some key activities of a local STEM Equity leadership team include:

  • Exploration, understanding, and reflection on issues such as being comfortable having difficult conversations about individual and organizational racism, unintentional/intentional biases; analyses of circulation and community information; discussions about who is using/not using the library; community issues that the library can help to address; and effectiveness of library policies and services to serve diverse groups of people equitably.
  • Community engagement and relationship building with diverse public, community groups and local government to effectively improve access to library services and resources of most need and interest of the public
  • STEM Equity operational planning to create a road map to an equitable, inclusive library focused on a priority science-based local issue and members of the public most affected by the issue.
  • Contribute to project evaluation through interviews and surveys.

Q5: What are the benefits of participating?

The benefits for participating as a pilot library includes:

  • Free training and support – Library directors and members of the local STEM Equity Leadership Team will receive free training and intensive coaching/support.
  • Develop long-term strategies and access to equitable, inclusive library services and resources addressing science-based community issues – The library director in collaboration with the STEM Equity Leadership team will create a plan that describes the infrastructure, resources, and services needed to expand access and equitable services and resources to diverse vulnerable populations, not using the library around critical science-based community issues.
  • Build and strengthen relationships and partnerships with diverse members of their community as well as expand partnerships with local organizations, funders, and government.
  • National recognition – The pilot public libraries will garner national attention by their peers. This project could lead to the adoption of equitable STEM literacy by public libraries throughout the nation.

Q6: What professional development services will be provided to the pilot libraries?

Cornerstones is collaborating with OCLC/WebJunction on the development and delivery of a suite of professional development experiences that will occur over a sixteen week period. These are comprised of:

  • Eight live sessions provided by the project team and subject matter experts.
  • Virtual meetings to exchange pilot library ideas and experiences, promote discussions about STEM Equity in libraries, and identify supplemental professional development/continuing education that may be available.
  • STEM Equity workbook and toolkits to support the library director and the STEM Equity Leadership team collect data, feedback, and receive input from diverse groups and community leaders; provide a shared language about diversity, equity, and science-based learning; engage all members of the community; and build resilient partnerships to address pressing community issues. The pilot libraries will apply these materials to prepare an operational plan.
  • Moderated online community of practice where participating library directors and the leadership team can ask questions and discuss aspects of their STEM Equity operational plan with each other.

Q7: What support will the pilot libraries receive?

The pilot libraries will receive substantial support including:

  • Project staff will provide guidance documents, convene project webinars, and quickly respond to inquiries for assistance.
  • State Library staff will coach, mentor, and otherwise provide advice to their libraries.
  • The pilot libraries will receive $1,000 from the project’s Library Support Fund. Examples of eligible uses of this funding are partially offsetting staff costs if they are contract funded, costs to prepare a STEM Equity Plan such as honorarium for invited experts, meetings expenses to develop the Plan, resources to support Plan implementation (e.g., collections), etc.

Q8: How do I apply to become a pilot library?

All the information you need about the project, time commitments, and activities of participating pilot libraries can be found right here on our website!  Find the application here!

Q9: Who will select the pilot libraries and what criteria will be used?

Cornerstones of Science and the CT, ID and MD state libraries will select nine pilot libraries based on the application form and materials the library director uploads for consideration. Examples of the selection criteria include: (1) the library director’s willingness, commitment and ability to perform all pilot library requirements; (2) diversity of libraries (e.g., rural, suburban and urban; large and small; etc.) (3) library directors that have demonstrated experience and/or interest in developing library capacity to serve as a catalyst to address science-based issues within the community; (4) a commitment to building relationships with groups that are not using the library and to meet their needs; and (5) library directors interested in working with the other pilot libraries as well as with their state library.

Q10: My community is not a distressed/low income community? Is the project trying to have a diverse socioeconomic base or really focusing on those libraries in low income communities?

A criterion used in selecting libraries is the presence of diversity in the community. Examples of this diversity include race, ethnicity, and cultural disparities; social orientation & gender diversity; people with disabilities; and people whose incomes are below the federal poverty threshold.


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (Grant number RE-250085-OLS-21). The views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.