Bring the Universe to Your Library with NASA
Jennifer Dominiak | June 30, 2010
Editor’s Note: In case you missed it, this week we’re featuring blog posts on ALA Annual Conference programs. This entry focuses “Bring the Universe to Your Library with NASA,” where the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), a NASA affiliate, described the amazing array of online, print, and in-person cultural programs and resources available free to libraries.
Are you interested in expanding your library’s science programming? Would you like to receive materials and support for your programming efforts?
And best of all, would you like access to this information for free?
At Sunday morning’s ALA Annual Conference program in Washington, D.C., astronomers Frank Summers and Mangala Sharma of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) showered the audience with an amazing wealth of information, designed to help people rediscover their place in the universe.
The astronomy experience in libraries started with “Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery,” a traveling exhibition to fifty-five public libraries across the country. The exhibit, part of a multiyear, global celebration of astronomy, is presented by STScI, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the ALA Public Programs Office, through generous funding from NASA. Using images from Galileo’s observations to the Hubble Space Telescope and other NASA space observatories, twelve dramatic and colorful panels provide insight into how our universe and the objects within it have changed over the past four hundred years.
Even if you’re not on the official traveling exhibit itinerary, you have access to an astounding collection of celestial resources to help your community discover the universe.
You won’t want to miss:
Space Telescope Science Institute astronomy materials
Access a range of educational materials for stargazers, including classroom activities, graphic organizers, educator guides, and topical explorations of galaxies, black holes, comets, gravity, and more.
“Visions of the Universe” posters and booklets
Visit this site to download poster-sized versions of the “Visions of the Universe” exhibit panels. Don’t forget to download the supplemental materials booklet for each exhibit section, too.
Visions of the Universe site support notebook
Even if you’re not on the exhibit tour, you can access these helpful resources, including programming ideas, funding sources, suggested book titles, and related websites and films.
Night Sky Network
Explore this nationwide coalition of amateur astronomy clubs to learn how to connect science activities to your public audiences.
An online network of telescopes that allows you to explore observations made by Galileo—free far-out images are emailed to you within 48 hours.
Dark Skies Rangers
Explore the importance of dark skies through activities that demonstrate proper lighting, light pollution’s effects on wildlife, and how to measure the darkness of your skies.
NASA Solar System Ambassadors Program
Bring information about NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s space exploration missions and recent discoveries to your community with this public outreach project.
These are just a sampling of many free astronomy resources available to you. Please contact Jennifer Dominiak, ALA Program Officer for Exhibitions, for additional links to exhibit, observing, image, and speaker resources.
Program presenters Frank Summers and Mangala Sharma are clearly enthusiastic library partners. “Libraries are fantastic collaborators,” Summers said. They are so pleased with “Visions of the Universe” and its successful impact on libraries, they are working to expand library programming efforts. In addition to all of the free resources available for library programming, Sharma highlighted her desire to attract more girls to science. Sharma believes libraries are an ideal and welcoming place for girls and families to connect with astronomy—and STScI is passionate about fostering this connection. Sharma knowingly states, “Get girls involved, and they’ll make sure they get the whole family involved.” And according to an informal poll at the conference program, the audience firmly agreed. Science programming is in demand at libraries, and attendees are eager to learn more about the STScI initiative to involve more girls in science education.
What are your thoughts about science programming in libraries? In what ways does your library work with girls and families on science initiatives? Please leave a comment below! And keep an eye on Programming Librarian for updates on this new STScI pilot initiative.
Jennifer Dominiak is Program Officer for Exhibitions for the ALA Public Programs Office.