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You might be determined to bbq the perfect steak, or trying to find a better hook shot, or maybe you are one of those DIY solve-it folks making gadgets in your garage. No matter what your passion, chances are that you are using science, technology, engineering or math to push your own limits and pursue your passion. Pushing the Limits provides opportunities to consider and share those intriguing intersections with book club kits designed to engage people in thought-provoking and fun discussions. 

Kits are each structured around a theme, such as Pushing the Limits of Survival, or Pushing the Limits of Change. The theme is reflected in a set of curated books and videos, and explored through aligned discussion questions. Kits also include posters for advertising your book club, and bookmarks to hand out as reminders. Most of the videos are offered in English and with Spanish subtitles, and many of the book selections are available in Spanish. The User Guide provides more information on getting started.


Ideas for Book Clubs

Public libraries, Spanish conversation groups, neighborhood book clubs, community centers… Pushing the Limits can be used in all kinds of settings and in all kinds of ways. Start with a book you read on your own, and then watch the video together. Or while people are reading the book, send the link to a video to get an online conversation rolling before meeting. You can use the same theme multiple times with different books and videos, or put together your own series of themes.

The Pushing the Limits model can include bringing in a “science partner” for your club. This might be the high school science teacher, a retired engineer from the community, or your doctor–anyone who has developed the love of asking questions and pursuing answers through a scientific lens.

Project History

Originally funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2010, four themed kits were produced that offered public programming and professional development materials for librarians. These were implemented in 100 libraries nationwide: Survival, Nature, Knowledge and Connection. The NSF next funded Rural Gateways which generated four additional themes and expanded the use of its resources to even more libraries:  Tradition, Transformation, Motion, and Heritage. This grant also provided funding to create a Spanish-language episode (Persistence), for Spanish subtitles on all series video, and the curating of additional book selections to support Spanish-speaking audiences.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) subsequently funded PLACE (Public Libraries Advancing Community Engagement), with themes based in rural and under-resourced communities, to help them build their resilience to extreme weather and climate change: Change, Community and Strategy.

We are now excited to offer the programming materials and additional resources through this public website. Please enjoy them in your book clubs, as stand-alone events, or in a series.

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