For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development


PHILADELPHIA, October 23, 2014—The Free Library of Philadelphia is excited to announce that it has received a $500,000 National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support its innovative Maker Jawn Initiative. A unique mashup of creativity and scientific exploration, the Maker Jawn Initiative will introduce and engage Philadelphians in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)-based projects aimed to help them understand and become inspired by electronics and computing through imaginative tinkering.


Through the Maker Jawn Initiative, the Free Library will create makerspaces at select neighborhood libraries in historically underserved neighborhoods in North Philadelphia. These makerspaces will enable Philadelphians of all ages to gain access to technology and participatory education by encouraging creative and collaborative projects. Mentors will guide community members as they create cross-disciplinary, interest-driven electronic art projects; build interest and knowledge in STEAM fields; use tools and skills to create and share artifacts that reflect their identities and communities; and gain key 21st century skills.


“The Free Library’s Maker Jawn Initiative is a truly inventive way to help engage Philadelphians with science-based learning and technology through creativity and the arts,” said Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director. “We are grateful to IMLS for supporting our vision and helping us advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity through the unique Maker Jawn Initiative.”


Past Maker projects at the Free Library have included paper circuitry, in which participants created personalized, light-up postcards using paper circuits and LEDs, and e-textiles, in which participants honed their electronics knowledge and their fashion sense by sewing microcontrollers to LEDs using conductive thread. The Free Library of Philadelphia will announce the neighborhood libraries participating in the Maker Jawn Initiative at a future date.



The 61-location Free Library of Philadelphia system advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi; and rich special collections, including  those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. With more than 6 million in-person and 9 million online visits annually, the Free Library and the Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850