Rural / Tribal Library Toolkit Phase 1 Wrapup

In fall 2021, seven small, remote libraries worked with me and Avery—and each other, of course!—to co-design a new toolkit of approaches, materials, and formats explicitly supporting non-expert facilitators in rural or tribal public library settings. We loved working with this small group to learn more about how different librarians face unique challenges all over the U.S.

I’ll let them each share more about their projects in this thread or elsewhere on the forum, but here’s a brief summary of what we’ve seen them add to the offerings at PLIX, all designed to make it easier for libraries like theirs to start offering PLIX activities.

Sheila Privett in Andover, Ohio plans to launch (in late January) a bi-weekly club for tweens and teens based on PLIX activities. She is defining a target audience, recruiting participants, and sharing her program plan with us and other libraries who may also want to launch a similar series of meetups.

Tyler Hahn in Cherokee, Iowa is bringing the PLIX Urban Ecology activity into the animal kingdom. His patrons have discovered insects tucked into surprising corners of his branch, and he is using those to extend the abiotic/biotic and sorting activities. He’s also prototyping a “make your own insect” piece to the activity. @tylerhahn

Jean Daley in Erving, Massachusetts is putting together monthly take-and-make kits and an accompanying online program and in-library exhibition, all based on PLIX activities. Her library has seen a decline in patron participation, and she is hoping that these kits will help her re-engage with a dedicated group she used to see before the pandemic. She may share her program plan and the prompts she will insert into each month’s kits. @Jean_Daley

Sheila Gracey in Forrest City, Arkansas didn’t come into this group thinking of herself as a person who creates electronics, but she gravitated to the Paper Circuits and Inflatables activities, seeing in them the potential to connect to the CSLP Oceans of Possibilities theme. She mashed these two activities up to create an example project —a fish like the terrifying flashlight fish in Finding Nemo—for her workshop attendees to riff off of when she tries the project out this winter.

Mary Jo Parker in Lake Andes, South Dakota looked at the Beautiful Symmetry and thought of the Lone Star quilt designs that play an important role in her small town of 800. She will work with community members, including a local quilt maker, to design a new wall hanging for a new library building as well as individual panels for participants to take home. We’ll share more about her project in a future blog post. @MJP

Sammie Betler in Liberty, Kentucky worked with her colleagues to artistically combine papercraft with the PLIX Paper Circuits activity as a take-and-make kit. She’s also putting together a system for sending out Scratch + micro:bit on USB drives, to enable a remote, do-at-home coding club for her patrons. They all have Chromebooks thanks to the schools’ 1:1 computing program, but very little bandwidth in her very rural location of Casey County. @Sammie_Betler

Cora Schaeff at Leelanau Township Library in Northport, Michigan is really interested in supporting rural colleagues who, like her, may be the only person working in the library on any given day. She has come up with some great remixes of PLIX materials that fit into the passive programming model she often implements on tabletops around the library. We’ll continue to co-design signage to slip into acrylic holders so that families can self-direct their PLIX-inspired projects. She will start with PLIX Urban Ecology, taking the Sensory Nature Walk and turning it into both take-and-makes and the in-library passive program. @cschaeff

An eighth participant made a lot of progress, but because of an untimely staff change (we’ve all seen those during this pandemic!) that library will re-join in phase 2.

You can be a part of phase 2 as well! Apply here.

And stay tuned! Many of these librarians are just getting started with PLIX and we expect to see man wonderful things emerging from them in the future!


To: Sheila Gracey in Forrest City, Arkansas
I would love to hear more about your project. Details please?


I love hearing about these libraries! How very cool! What a great way to use the creative PLIX creative learning experiences!


I agree! It is wonderful to hear how our library colleagues in rural areas are engaging their young patrons in STEM activities. So inspiring! Especially amazing is how they can do all that while sometimes being the only person working in the library on a given day.


Just read this article in the Library Journal. Maybe we could reach out to them???

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@averymsnormandin @binka We would love for your group to share this toolkit project in a panel and possibly an activity in an online Digital Inclusion conference for the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums in May! Please contact me ASAP as we are planning the program–but this would be a wonderful opportunity to connect with more tribal libraries and share the good work you are doing! feel free to reach out here or email me