National Science Digital Library

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The National Science Digital Library (NSDL) was created by the National Science Foundation to provide organized access to high quality resources and tools that support innovations in teaching and learning at all levels of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

As a national network of learning environments, resources, and partnerships, NSDL seeks to serve a vital role as STEM educational cyberlearning for the nation, meeting the informational and technological needs of educators and learners at all levels.

(NOTE: "Pathways" within NSDL include several of the repositories listed above (BEN, DLESE, etc.--plus others.)


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Educators need efficient and reliable methods to discover and use science and math materials that help them meet the demands of instruction, assessment, and professional development in an increasingly complex technology-based world.

NSDL provides an organized point of access to:

  • High-quality STEM content aggregated from a variety of other digital libraries, NSF-funded projects, and NSDL-reviewed web sites.
  • Services and tools that enhance the use of this content in a variety of contexts.

NSDL is designed primarily for K-16 educators, but anyone can access and search the library at no cost. Access to most resources discovered through NSDL is free; however, some content providers may require a login, or a nominal fee or subscription to retrieve their specific resources.

NSDL serves as a nexus for educators, researchers, policy makers and the public by building bridges:

  • Between private sector and public interests by providing access to resources such as publisher' journal articles, teacher-created lesson plans and real-time data sets from scientists
  • Between the scientific, research and educational communities by applying advanced technologies to stimulate new ways for educators and learners to access and use scientific information
  • Between teachers and learners at all levels, in all locations by supplying content and tools in open-access, non-propietary formats in an easily accessible online environment.


Initial development of the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) program began in late 1995 with an internal concept paper for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Undergraduate Education. In 1996, NSF released a report about ways to improve undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. It recommended establishing a national digital library that would constitute an online network of learning environments for improving teaching and learning for STEM education at all levels. In 1998, two rounds of prototype projects were supported through special initiatives conducted under the auspices of the multi-agency Digital Libraries Initiative - Phase 2 (DLI-2) program. (For more background see the NSDL progress report by Dr. Lee Zia in D-Lib Magazine.)

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