ALIA Blog Article

Expensive? Dry? Boring? Think again!

Gary Lom on why he loves debunking misconceptions about STEM

Debunking the idea that STEM activities or learning need be expensive, dryly academic or boring, is something that STEM in Libraries course facilitator Gary Lom loves to do. Here, Gary tells us about the course, who it is suitable for and what participants might get out of it….

This course is always well-received, with participants telling us that it helps to broaden their exposure to different experiences with STEM. We also hear that the opportunity to learn from others is highly valued and that the course has given participants confidence to run a STEM program in the future.

STEM in Libraries course addresses both the need for a STEM empowered workforce and a science-literate public, but also involves inclusion and access for those traditionally excluded from these areas – whether through gender expectation, economic or technological disadvantage.

At the end of the course the skills and knowledge gained start with a basic underpinning of the characteristics of STEM programming and collections in libraries. Participants will also learn about:

  • the need for STEM and how libraries fit in
  • the basics of an inquiry-based approach
  • balancing capability with ambition in planning STEM based activities
  • programs partnerships and gear
  • an introduction to the practicalities of running STEM programming.

I find we get a very broad level of experience and ambition among participants. Some are just starting out on their STEM journey; others have been working in the area for a while. Some are in schools, some in public libraries. I love facilitating those conversations and I always learn something new myself.

The diverse conversations are around the interests and experience of participants – from introducing STEM concepts into storytime though to robotics and high-end media or makerspaces. I remember fondly discussions about the connection of ideas like knitting=coding, or the amount of water displaced in Mr. Archimedes bath being rudimentary physics and measurement. It can just make people think: OMG I’m already doing STEM programming.

Gary has been a librarian since 1987, working at a variety of Academic, Special and Public Libraries before turning his hand to library education in the mid 2000's. After 16 years teaching library studies at Ultimo TAFE he joined ALIA in January 2022. He is a passionate but indiscriminate fan of music, comics and prose, and a bit of a library geek.

Stem in Libraries
May 17 - June 13,  2022

Registrations close 10th May 2022

Find out more