As part of the process for the big exhibits we get here at the library, such as Discover Space: A Cosmic Journey we have to compile a huge 37 page long final report, as well as a summary! We thought you might be interested in reading some of the final statistics, and hope that it will give you a better idea of what goes into getting one of these exhibits here at your library. The report and this summary were written by Jennifer Rife, project director and design & humanities coordinator for Laramie County Library.
Discover Space was developed by The American Library Association and the Space Science Institute, through funding by the National Science Foundation. LCLS was one of 9 libraries nationwide chosen to host Discover Space.
The ideas for Discover Space programming began in March 2015, the application was submitted on April 11. The 3-year long project involved training workshops and webinars, coordinating with partners, developing publicity, getting the word out, installing the exhibit, implementing programs, conducting tours, compiling evaluations, collecting circulation data, and submitting the project’s final report on April 27, 2018.
During the 12-week exhibit, 363,429 people visited the library, according to gate counts. Since the exhibit was located throughout the building, it is impossible to know an exact count of exhibit visitors. Because the majority of exhibit components were located on the 2nd floor, and the exhibit was geared toward youth, exhibit visitor count is estimated by considering that around 50% of circulation is of materials located on the 2nd floor. Based on this calculation, 181,715 people visited the exhibit. Explore Space, a poster exhibit available to print through the Space Science Institute that serves as a scaled-down Discover Space exhibit, was installed by branch staff in both Burns and Pine Bluffs.
LCLS more than doubled the number of required programs (10) by hosting 26! The programs were for people of all ages at the libraries in Cheyenne, Burns and Pine Bluffs. A blend of imaginative science fiction and hard science drove programming and complementary exhibits, implemented successfully by LCLS staff. A total of 1,128 people attended Discover Space events for all ages at the library’s branches.
Programming highlights included star-gazing with the library’s 10” Dobsonian telescope purchased with proceeds from sales of eclipse glasses during the summer of 2017. LCLS’s new partner, the UW NASA Space Grant Consortium, was very helpful in carrying out these programs and creating a short instructional video on how to use the telescope. A youth event highlight was the Discover Space Careers Fair. More than 60 students and adults attended and learned about space careers from professionals in a variety of space-related fields, one such professional being Jennifer Larson, Director of Satellite Operations at Echostar.
Dr. Jana Grcevich (astronomer) and Olivia Koski (science writer), authors of Vacation Guide to the Solar System and agents for the Intergalactic Space Agency with the New York and London based organization, Guerilla Science, were brought to Cheyenne by LCLS with the help of a kind anonymous donation. The duo visited science classes at South High School on Friday, February 9, and they had the students so engaged in discussions that it was difficult to drag them away! That evening, Jana and Olivia gave a presentation on traveling through our solar system at the Guerilla Science Mixer, held just for adults. It was a fun evening with hands-on science activities, a planetary photo booth, VR goggles, adult beverages, and an opportunity for adults to enjoy Discover Space interactive components on their own. (How often do you get to create your own solar system with an astronomer who has discovered a dwarf galaxy, like Jana has?) The next day Jana and Olivia led the annual Young Writers Workshop.
With Discover Space being on exhibit during the annual LCSD #1 Elementary School Art Show, the art teachers jumped on board with having their students create space-themed art. This was a huge hit! Students from Davis Elementary created child-sized astronauts that hung from the rafters of the library’s 2nd floor, one of which was floating in space while reading a book. The building was overtaken by constellations in different mediums, imaginative satellites, felted-wool aliens and so much more!
School tours turned out to be very successful, volunteer docents were trained and led each tour. Ten elementary schools, one high school, one homeschool group, and three community groups toured the exhibit, involving 599 children and adults. To keep with our focus on combining imagination with science, all students who took tours received a button with a quote from Star Wars on it, such as “The Force is strong with this one!”
Discover Space had a huge impact on circulation across the library system. Exhibit requirements included keeping circulation statistics for the call number range 520-528 (space sciences) in both nonfiction and juvenile non-fiction. The stats compare circulation numbers from the time period Discover Space was on exhibit to the same time period of the previous year. Circulation increased a whopping 142%! Overall circulation rose 10% over the same time period of the previous year, a notable increase.
Discover Space was a very successful effort by LCLS. From start to finish it was a team effort that involved staff from every division of the library in some form or another. The exhibit was a hit with the community (survey forms were filled with positive comments), and only time will tell if a child from Laramie County grows up to travel to Mars, discover distant galaxies, direct a space-themed film, or write a space-themed series of novels because of experiencing Discover Space at the Laramie County Library.