Rural Gateways: Fostering the Development of Rural Librarians as Informal Science Facilitators

Califa is looking for librarians in rural public libraries who are interested in providing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programming for adults; must have at least 5 years’ experience in a library. In exchange for completing a brief survey (10-15 minutes), you will receive a $100 honorarium and access to Rural Gateways website offering professional development training, planning, and program materials.

The Rural Gateways project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, aims to build librarians’ capacity to plan and facilitate science-based library programs. The series of library programs uses videos and popular books to engage audiences and promote thought-provoking discussion, giving community members another reason to love their local library!

Grant Award: $100 and access to Rural Gateways website offering public program materials, professional development, ongoing programming support, and an online peer-to-peer community.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to know about STEM topics or content to facilitate the programs?

This grant program supports librarians who have little or no experience in leading STEM programs for adults. We will provide the skill-building materials that you will need to participate in the project.

What type of support and professional development will be available for me as I plan and offer the programs?

The Rural Gateways website offers an extensive platform of online learning materials, discussions, and support to build your skills for planning STEM programs and engaging your community through partnerships. The website also includes materials for up to 8 related public programs you can offer.

What is the primary goal of the grant project?

Rural Gateways is a national research-based project designed to expand understanding about the ways professional development might increase the competencies of rural librarians to facilitate STEM programs for adults. The project is a unique and important opportunity for you to contribute to advancing the library profession’s capacity to engage communities in STEM literacy topics and discussions.

How many librarians will participate in this phase of the project?

We anticipate that approximately 25-50 librarians will participate in the current phase of the project.

Do I have to have a master’s of library science to participate?

No, a formal degree is not required.

My colleague would like to participate. Can two people from the same library apply?

Yes, if they work in two different facilities.

My library's headquarters is not in a rural area; however, my branch is. Am I still eligible?

Yes, if your facility serves a rural area, you are eligible.

What criteria are used to define “rural”?

There are many definitions used by the federal government to define rural — most based on the lack of urban characteristics. We are trying to be flexible and use a continuum of rurality that illustrates a library's access to resources. Rural is loosely defined as a population of less than 25,000, a population density of less than 1,000 people per square mile, and a distance from an urban area of more than 25 miles. If you are not sure if you qualify, please submit your application and let us decide.

Who is managing and coordinating this grant project?

Rural Gateways is a research project funded by the National Science Foundation ( Dartmouth College ( is the lead organization, with The Califa Library Group (, the Institute for Learning Innovations (, Dawson Media Group (, and Goodman Research Group) providing staffing, resources, and support. We are also working in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries ( and the Public Library Association (

My library participated in the Pushing the Limits grant. Am I still eligible for this grant?

Library staff who participated in Pushing the Limits are not eligible for the Rural Gateways grant. However, library staff from a different facility of the same library system are eligible.

For more information contact Paula MacKinnon,