Tuesday, April 02, 2019

The National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) at the Space Science Institute (SSI) invited the nation’s State Library Agencies  to request to host the NASA @ My Library workshop to train and support public librarians in their state to “effectively facilitate NASA science-focused learning experiences for underserved audiences.”

Mrs. Kate Greene Smith, Youth Services and Special Projects Coordinator at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, accepted this unique invitation from NCIL and SSI. Smith proceeded to locate a public library centrally located in the state with proximity to both an airport and the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The Smyrna Public Library offered the location, space, and equipment needed to meet all criteria allowing the library to serve as host venue for the workshop.

Smith then collaborated with Directors from each of the Tennessee Regional Libraries to select the librarian participants. The selected attendees represented twenty-nine public libraries from the Tennessee Regional Library System in Buffalo River Region, Clinch River Region, Falling Water Region, Hatchie River Region, Holston River Region, Obion River Region, Ocoee River Region, Red River region, and Stones River Region.

The lead facilitator for the workshop was Christine Shupla, Senior Education Specialist of the Lunar and Planetary Institute. She leads LPI’s professional development and materials development for librarians and other educators. Ms. Shupla holds a Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy from the University of Texas in Austin, and a Master of Arts in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For an evening workshop session, volunteer astronomer Mr. Gary Eaton, set up his telescopes in the park next to the Smyrna Public Library. While the librarians waited for stars to appear, Eaton shared many useful tips and information to help librarians plan their own successful night-sky viewing events at their libraries.

Following the completion of the two-day workshop, Kate Smith gave comment, “Thanks to the NASA @ My Library Workshop, librarians in Tennessee broadened their knowledge about our Summer Reading theme, Space, and experienced hands-on training they will share with their patrons and other librarians across the state. Through this training, our librarians gained confidence in their ability to provide S.T.E.M. programming at their libraries, and I expect to see our patrons share the wonder and awe we found during our workshop.”

Summer Reading programs always provide the opportunity to learn new things at our public libraries, but this year especially, I think we will be star-struck by the great S.T.E.M. programs and activities that will allow us to discover more about the skies above us and explore the “Universe of Stories.” I am so grateful to the NASA @ My Library program and the Lunar and Planetary Institute for providing us with this workshop.”

Smyrna Public Library is a branch of the Rutherford County Library System and is located at 400 Enon Springs Road West in Smyrna, Tennessee. Explore, Imagine, Engage through RCLS. For more information, call 615-459-4884 or visit www.rclstn.org.