DLESE and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) are close partners, dating from the first articulations of the vision for a national digital library for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
DLESE's development pre-dates NSDL's by one year (1999 vs. 2000). DLESE was envisioned as a single comprehensive online source for geoscience education, aggregating a wide variety of pedagogically sound, technologically robust, and scientifically accurate resources, collections of resources, datasets, services, and communications to support inquiry-based, active, student-centered learning about the Earth system. NSDL was similarly envisioned to be a collection of collections serving a multi-disciplinary community of educators and students in all the STEM disciplines, at all levels, from K-12 through lifelong learning, and in both formal and informal settings.
Both initiatives seek to bring greater depth and breadth to science literacy through access to online materials and services that actively encourage a sense of curiosity, wonder, and interest in the processes of the physical world and the universe. Both initiatives serve as vehicles for integrating scientific knowledge and understanding into the daily lives of citizens everywhere, encouraging new kinds of learning and learning environments that build upon a rich suite of library content, enabling the "doing of science" in the classroom experience, and serving as the necessary antecedent to educational reform.
DLESE's unique grass-roots, community-based governance structure served as a model for the NSDL governance structure of working groups and committees, with an overall guiding body of knowledgeable scientists, educators, and information science and technology experts. Both initiatives have demonstrated a willingness to aggressively pursue creative thinking in thier social interactions and structures, as well as in the technological arena, engaging in the ongoing creation of new services and tools that promise enhanced discovery of resources and collections while simultaneously advancing research in digital library development.
Some of the essential collections efforts and library services of DLESE (e.g. the Community Review System) owe their success to initial funding through the NSDL initiative. DLESE community members serve on NSDL Committees and working groups, and participate in NSDL's annual meeting each year.
DLESE serves as the geoscience pathway of the NSDL, and both communities benefit from a synergistic exchange of intellectual capital, social innovation in understanding and doing distributed development on a large scale, and technological innovation.