About Us - Issues

21st Century Skills

The global economy calls for new skills like critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation.

Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century SkillsNational Initiative: Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills
The Institute's Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills initiative underscores the critical role our nation’s museums and libraries play in helping citizens build such 21st century skills as information, communications and technology literacy, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, civic literacy, and global awareness.

Stem Video Game Challenge logoPartnership: STEM Video Game Challenge
IMLS is a National Community Sponsor of the National STEM Video Game Challenge. The Challenge, now in its third year, was inspired by President Obama’s "Educate to Innovate" Campaign, promoting science, technology, engineering and math education.

Search the Awarded Grants database for grants to programs that strengthen 21st century skills (issue areas have only been assigned to grants awarded since FY 2009)

21st century skills content on the IMLS Web site:
LearningLabsReport 1
Learning Lab Publication Describes Transformative Spaces for Teens

November 20, 2014 10:19 AM
Learning Labs are creative spaces in libraries and museums that engage teens and tweens 21st century learning. Read More

 
New IMLS Funding to Support the Digital Public Library of America

September 30, 2014 11:26 AM
An IMLS grant will help the Digital Public Library of America expand its infrastructure to make more digital collections available to all. Read More

 
Federal Grants of $30 Million Awarded to Support Museums across the U.S.

September 18, 2014 08:28 AM
Today IMLS announces recipients of the Museums for America and National Leadership Grants for Museums programs. Grants awarded in 2014 inspire museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Read More

 
Blog Post: Interview: Colorado State Library

November 21, 2014 10:20 AM
The state library is focusing on early literacy, including their “1,000 books by kindergarten” program. Read More

 
A child sits at a computer in a library
Blog Post: Interview: Kansas State Library

October 23, 2014 02:43 PM
Kansas State Library is focusing on digital literacy and workforce development to reduce poverty and help their residents succeed as lifelong learners. Read More

 
Blog Post: Apply for a Free 3D Printer From 3D Systems!

October 3, 2014 03:05 PM
Museums and libraries that join the MakerLab Club and offer 3D printing and design programs may apply. Read More

 
LearningLabsReport 1
Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums:Transformative Spaces for Teens


Learn how 24 cities and counties applied new research about young people’s media practices to create physical and digital spaces for learning. This publication describes lessons learned, new models and practices and the impact of Learning Labs, supported by IMLS and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Read More

 
cover of Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills report
Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills Report


This report outlines a vision for the role of libraries and museums in the national dialogue around learning and 21st century skills and includes case studies of innovative audience engagement and 21st century skills practices from across the country. Read More

 
Teens 1
Talking Points: From Third Place to Makerspace: Public Libraries and Teens


A snapshot of how public libraries reach out to teens with programs and services. Read More

 
Talking Points: Adult Literacy Cover
Talking Points: Adults Gain Skills at the Library


Short overview of the impact of library services for adult literacy. Read More

 
cpver of Talking Points: Makerspaces
Talking Points: Museums, Libraries, and Makerspaces


Quick summary of makerspaces -- hands-on, mentor-led learning environments to make and remake the physical and digital worlds -- in museums and libraries. Read More

 
21st Century Skills podcast

August 11, 2010 03:54 PM
In this podcast, Acting Director Marsha L. Semmel explains: 1) What are 21st century skills? 2) Where did the 21st century skills movement come from? 3) Where do museums and libraries fit in the 21st century skills movement? Semmel also describes Making the Learning Connection, IMLS’s national campaign to better understand the opportunities, challenges, and key issues facing today’s museums and libraries in their efforts to meet their communities’ 21st century learning needs. The campaign includes an eight-city workshop tour, a national contest, new online tools and resources, and a series of interactive webinars. Read More