The Telescope Lending Program is the result of a partnership between St. Louis County Library District (SLCL) and the St. Louis Astronomical Society (SLAS). The lending program makes 28 telescopes available for patrons to check out for one week; it is believed to be the largest telescope lending program at a single library district in the country. SLAS borrowed the concept from the New Hampshire Astronomical Society, which first introduced the lending model.
Telescope components are acquired and assembled by SLAS and provided to libraries at a cost of $335 per unit. SLCL acquired private funding to pay for the majority of the telescopes, but several others were donated directly by SLAS. The program has been extremely popular; since it was introduced in November 2014, we have had 475 checkouts and 522 holds (as of March 2016).
The day 28 telescopes hit the shelves at a Missouri public library, they were all checked out within minutes.