Featured Library: Drake Community Library

It can often be difficult to create programming that accommodates more than one age group, but Drake Community Library in Grinnell, Iowa, has been successfully coordinating programs for children and adults alike. For their current “Visions of the Universe” exhibition, they have more than twenty events planned for children, for teens and adults, and some for all three.

The library invited NASA education ambassador David Beier to launch the exhibit on January 15. Both Friday and Saturday boasted fun and interesting programs for different age groups, including presentations by Mr. Beier, a starlight story time featuring a reader’s theatre dramatization of the Apollo 11 mission, and a space science organization fair.

For adults, the library organized a “Space Talk” speaker series featuring a new topic and expert every week, including “The Inquisition and the Telescope” with Samuel Wormley, retired Iowa State University (ISU) professor of physics and astronomy; “Step Back and Take a Look…” with ISU Extension climatologist Elwynn Taylor; “Our Place in Space” and “The Moon” with J. R. Paulson; “Life in the Universe” and “Songs of the Stars” with Grinnell professor Bob Cadmus; “New Eyes on the Universe: From Microwaves to Gamma Rays” with Grinnell professor Charlie Duke; “Mission to Mars” with NASA solar system ambassador Deanna Walvatne; “Iowa in Space: Van Allen to Cassini” with University of Iowa professor Don Gurnett; and “Space Adventures” with Lt. Col. Steve Palmquist, director of aerospace education for the Iowa Civil Air Patrol. Adults can also join a book discussion group on Stephen Hawking’s The Illustrated Brief History of Time or attend a booktalk and author signing of James Van Allen: The First 8 Million Miles by Abigail Foerstner.

Children are welcome to join their own series of programs, including “Space Adventures” with Lt. Col. Steve Palmquist, who will help kids understand what it is like to go into space as an astronaut; “Iowa in Space” with Abigail Foerstner, who will provide a fun look at space exploration and research past and present; and “The Star Next Door” with J. R. Paulson, who will help participants learn more about the most important star in our sky—the sun! Children can also attend a book club for fourth through sixth graders that will discuss The Countdown by Ben Mikaelsen as well as an afterschool astronomy club on Thursdays.

The library also offers a “Visions of the Universe” resource page on its Web site for those inspired to learn more. The exhibition runs through March 26, 2010.