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GPLS awards libraries $380,000 in STEAM grants

GPLS News, December 2015

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GPLS awards libraries $380,000 in STEAM grants
“We wanted to offer a competitive minigrant program to help libraries put art into the mix, turning them from STEM to STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math — projects,” Jessica Everingham, assistant state librarian for library development and support.

Georgia Public Library Service awarded 38 grants of $10,000 each this fall to build resources for art education and continue the development of resources in science, technology, engineering and math at the state's public libraries. The funding was part of the annual federal Grants to States program that GPLS received from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

"Building on the success of last year's similar collection development grants, we wanted to offer a competitive minigrant program to help libraries put art into the mix, turning them from STEM to STEAM -- science, technology, engineering, art and math -- projects," explained Jessica Everingham, assistant state librarian for library development and support.

Receiving grants were the following library systems: Athens Regional, Bartow County, Chattahoochee Valley, Chattooga County, Cherokee Regional, Chestatee Regional, Clayton County, Coastal Plain Regional, Coweta County, DeKalb County, DeSoto Trail Regional, Greater Clarks Hill Regional, Gwinnett County, Hall County, Henry County, Houston County, Lake Blackshear Regional, Lee County, Live Oak, Marshes of Glynn, Middle Georgia Regional, Moultrie-Colquitt County, Northeast Georgia Regional, Ocmulgee Regional, Oconee Regional, Okefenokee Regional, Piedmont Regional, Pine Mountain Regional, Roddenbery Memorial, Screven-Jenkins Regional, Sequoyah Regional, South Georgia Regional, Statesboro Regional, Thomas County, Troup-Harris Regional, Twin Lakes, Uncle Remus Regional and West Georgia Regional.

IMLS stipulated that STEAM resources could include books or DVDs on any of the STEAM subjects; materials for programming, such as Lego bricks, art supplies or robotics kits; or technology tools, such as 3-D printers, MakeyMakey invention kits or Raspberry Pi credit-card sized computers.

"By providing tools and resources that children often do not have in their homes or schools, a public library has the potential to be a place of exploration and enrichment for young minds," said Leard Daughety, director of the Oconee Regional Library (OCRL) system, which used its grant to acquire a set of STEAM-related titles for each of its member libraries, along with Lego Duplos (oversized bricks designed for children aged 18 months to 5 years old) and regular Lego bricks for older children. OCRL held its inaugural "BUILD!" event at the Laurens County Library on Nov. 4 and subsequently put many of the children's creative works on view in display cases at the library.

"I've had a great time last month visiting several of our grantees," said Elaine Black, director of youth services for GPLS. "I attended the Thanksgiving Story and Legos program at the Clarkesville-Habersham Library, where Circulations Clerk Ashawna Green read the classic Cranberry Thanksgiving and then helped children create and race their own self-propelled Lego cars.

"I visited the Hall County Spout Springs branch afterschool program "Let's Experiment: Marble Runs," in which the kids built their own marble runs using paper tubes and duct tape under the watchful eye of Library Assistant Lauren Tennyson. From there, it was on to the Commerce Public Library's inaugural meeting of the Lego Education WeDo Club, where enthusiastic elementary students built dancing birds alongside Branch Manager Angel Tuggle. I was also impressed by my visits to the Sequoyah Regional and Gwinnett County library systems, where I was able to see all the wonderful materials purchased with the grant funds.

"Systems around the state are putting these funds to work, offering incredible programs for children and teens, as well as some for adults, too."