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St. Louis Library Telescope Program

 131 library telescopes available for checkout
(effective August 19, 2016)


Don't have a telescope in your Library?  Have your library contact us at: librarytelescope@slasonline.org

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Orders for our next library telescopes expansion
are due on February 1, 2017
(our July 1, 2016 was for 43 telescopes raising our area count to 131 telescopes)

About the Program

Photo of SLAS Library TelescopeThe St. Louis Astronomical Society ("SLAS") Library Telescope Program seeks to foster scientific literacy, stimulate an interest in astronomy, and provide people who have never looked through a telescope the chance to experience the excitement that comes from discovery. The program takes advantage of the public library system infrastructure to place telescopes in local public libraries for circulation just like a book. Library patrons age eighteen-years or older with a valid Library card are able to check out a telescope for seven days.  Libraries can setup book displays using the telescope as a centerpiece. 

SLAS uses the SLAS uses the Orion StarBlast 4.5" telescope for its program.  Each telescope is modified by SLAS to be more durable and patron friendly and is equipped with accessories to help library patrons explore the night sky, including a user’s manual, constellation guide, Moon map, and night light.

SLAS also provides the libraries with ongoing educational support and telescope maintenance.  Throughout the year, libraries host star parties – telescope viewing sessions where the public can gather to view the night skies through a number of telescopes operated by SLAS members.

SLAS modeled it's program based on a design by Marc Stowbridge and the New Hampshire Astronomical Society. The New Hampshire program was launched in 2008 and has proven highly successful with over 100 participating libraries and waiting lists for patrons to “checkout” the telescope. 

Program History

On November 10, 2014, eighteen (18) library telescopes were deployed into the St. Louis area libaries.  Participating libraries included Kirkwood Library (1 telescope), St. Louis County (10 telescopes), St. Louis Public Library (5 telescopes), University City Library (1 telescope) and YMCA Trout Lodge (1 telescope).   SLAS donated three of the 18 telescopes.  The remaining telescopes were purchased by the participating organizations.

On May 29, 2015, an additional thirty-four (34) additional library telescopes will be deployed into area libraries.  New libraries participating in the program include Belleville Public Library, Hayner Public Library in Alton, Jefferson County Library, St. Charles City-County Library, eight new independent libraries which are part of the Municipal Library Consortium of St. Louis County and five new branches in St. Louis County Library.  SLAS is pleased to partner with the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri (ASEM) to support expansion of the program into St. Charles City-County. Of the thirty four (34) telescopes scheduled for deployment on May 29th, the libraries directly purchased twenty two (22) of the telescopes.  Of the remaining twelve (12) telescopes, SLAS donated four (4) telescopes, ASEM donated three (3) telescopes, private donors in Alton donated three (3) telescopes and Orion Telescopes & Binoculars (Orion) donated two (2) telescopes.

On October 1, 2015, an additional five (5 ) library telescopes will be added to the St. Louis regional area deployment.  SLAS is partnering with SIUE to expand the SLAS Library Telescope Program into Edwardsville and Collinsville Illinois.  Of the five library telescopes available for patron checkout, three telescopes will be deployed into the Edwardsville Public Library and two telescopes into the Mississippi Valley Library District in Colllinsville.  The "Edwardsville Library Friends" has donated the funds for the Edwardsville expansion and the Mississippi Valley Public Library District will be directly funding their expansion.

On January 13, 2016, St. Louis Astronomical Society donated two additional telescopes to St. Louis County Library.  Funding for the two telescopes was from the St. Louis Astronomical Society winning a national award from Astronomy Magazine called the Out-of-this-World Award. Eric Button, Assistant Director  Branch Services for St. Louis County Library was excited to accept the telescopes which will be placed into the Grant's View and Thornhill Branches of St. Louis County Library.  The St. Louis Astronomical Society decided to donate these telescopes to St. Louis County Library because the library had over 572 patrons waiting to checkout library telescopes.

On March 17, 2016, twenty nine (29) more telescopes will be added to the St. Louis area library telescope program.  St. Louis County Library will add twelve (12) telescopes with the program expanding to all their remaining locations.  New libraries to the program will be De Soto Public Library with three (3) telescopes, Glen Carbon Centennial Library District with three (3) telescoes, and Festus Public Library with one (1) telescope.  Several libraries will be add more telescopes to existing locations with the goal of reducing waiting time:  St. Charles City-County Library - four (4) telescopes; Jefferson County Library - three (3) telescopes; Saint Louis Public Library - two (2) telescopes;  University City Library - one (1) telescope.  The St. Louis Astronomical Society donated four (4) of the telescopes in this expansion with the libraries directly purchasing the remaining twenty-five (25) telescopes.

On August 19, 2016, our St. Louis program will expand by forty-three (43) telescopes raising the area count to 131 telescopes.  The program will be expanding into Cape Girardeau, Perry, Franklin and Scott Counties.  New libraries into the program will be Scenic Regional Library (10 telescopes), Riverside Regional Library (8 telescopes), Jefferson College Library (3 telescopes), Louis Latzer Memorial Library (2 telescopes), Cape Girardeau Library (1 telescope), East St. Louis Library (1 telescope) and SEMO Kent University Library (1 telescope).  Several libraries will be adding more telescopes to their existing program, namely St. Louis County Library (7 telescopes), St. Charles City-County Library (6 telescopes), Festus Public Library (2 telescopes), University City Library (1 telescope) and Webster Groves Library (1 telescope).   The St. Louis Astronomical Society donated four (4) of the telescopes in this expansion and the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri donated three (3) telescopes with the remaining thirty six (36) telescopes purchased directly by the libraries either through their own funds or from private donations.

In addition to the telescopes directly deployed into libraries, fifteen (15) telescopes were purchased to support library staff training and public star parties.  The St. Louis Astronomical Society purchased seven (7) of these telescopes, a grant from the NASA Missouri Space Grant Consortium funded the purchase of four (4) of these telescopes, the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri purchased three (3) telescopes and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville purchased one (1) telescope.

With the August 19, 2016 deployment, there will be (131) library telescopes in St. Louis area libraries spanning over 60 library locations across two states and eleven counties.

SLAS would like to thank the executives, staff and patrons of St. Louis area libraries for making the SLAS Library Telescope Program a success.  The Library Telescope Committee would also like to thank the New Hampshire Astronomical Society, the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri, Eastern Missouri Dark Sky Observers, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Jefferson College, the River Bend Astronomy Club, Southeast Missouri State University and, of course, the generous support of members of the St. Louis Astronomical Society for making the rapid expansion of this program possible.

Availability of Library Telescopes By Location (131 telescopes)

MISSOURI (112 telescopes)

St. Louis City-County (57 telescopes):

St. Charles County (19 telescopes)

Jefferson County (15 telescopes)

Franklin and Crawford Counties (10 telescopes)

Perry and Scott Counties (8 telescopes)

Cape Girardeau County (2 telescopes)

Washington County (1 telescope)

ILLINOIS (19 telescopes)

Madison County (15 telescopes):

St. Clair County (4 telescopes):

Photos

Visit Flickr for some great photos of our project expansion:

August 2016 build: Photos

March 2016 build:
- St. Louis County Library Photos
- St. Louis Astronomical Society Photos

Fall 2015 build: Photos

Spring 2015 build: Photos

Project Updates

Update on August 8, 2016: 60 volunteers from 12 different organizations worked all day at the Grant's View branch of St. Louis County library to upgrade 48 library telescopes to make them more durable and patron friendly.  43 telescopes are destined for St. Louis area libraries, 3 telescopes used for training programs and 2 telescopes taken to Kansas City in the hopes of starting the program there.  The workday started at 8am and ended at 3:30 pm with all telescopes successfully upgraded.  A special thank you to St. Louis County Library for providing the large conference room used for the workday.

Update on July 28, 2016:  Our orders increased to 43 telescopes increasing our St. Louis Library Telescope Program count to 131 telescopes effective August 19, 2016.  Join us on Saturday, August 6th from 9am to 5pm at the Grant's View Library of St. Louis County for a workday to upgrade our telescopes to make them more patron friendly and durable. Over 40 volunteers will be working on the 43 telescopes destined for public libraries and four additional telescopes used for training and demo purposes.

Update on July 28, 2016:  Our orders increased to 43 telescopes increasing our St. Louis Library Telescope Program count to 131 telescopes effective August 19, 2016.  Join us on Saturday, August 6th from 9am to 5pm at the Grant's View Library of St. Louis County for a workday to upgrade our telescopes to make them more patron friendly and durable. Over 40 volunteers will be working on the 43 telescopes destined for public libraries and four additional telescopes used for training and demo purposes.

Update on June 22, 2016: The American Library Association asked St. Louis County Library to write an article on the St. Louis Library Telescope Program. Eric Button, Assistant Director, Branch Services, St. Louis County Library responded to the ALA request with a great article:
Program Model: Telescope Lending Program

Update on March 17, 2016:  Our spring build of telescope was successfully completed. The 29 telescopes were successfully delivered to area libraries and the telescopes are now in circulation. Many thanks to the libraries and many volunteers that made this a successful build. A special thanks to the Florissant Branch of St. Louis County Library for hosting our "build".

Update on February 15, 2016:   Glen Carbon Centennial Library was a last minute addition to our spring 2016 expansion plans.  With the addition of Glen Carbon, 29 telescopes will be added to the program during this expansion raising the St. Louis area count to 88 telescopes.  Many thanks to Tom Foster of SIUE for supporting this program of the program in Ilinois.

Update on February 4, 2016: The spring 2016 order of telescopes have arrived with more supplies are on the way.   Everyone can take great comfort that our security officer, "Chase", inspected each box under the supervision of Donna Ficken  retired Special Education District Teacher, who agreed to pose with the telescopes to demonstrate the size of the boxes.  

 Library Telescopes Delivered

Update on February 2, 2016: Orders for 26 telescopes were received for our spring 2016 expansion.  Telescopes will be made available for public checkout on March 17, 2016.   Details by library are located elsewhere in this article.  Telescopes have been ordered with everything in stock.  Our Saturday, March 5th "build" at the Florissant Valley Branch of St. Louis County Library looks like a "go".  Come join in the fun which will begin at 9am and be finished no later than 5pm. 

Update on January 21, 2016:  St. Louis County Library has graciously agreed to host our next library telescope"build" party from 9 am to 5pm on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at the Florissant Valley Branch of St. Louis County Library. During the "build", each telescope is modified by volunteers to be more durable and patron friendly.  Approximately 50 volunteers participated in the May 9, 2015 build which added 34 more telescopes to area libraries. 34 more telescopes to area libraries.

Update on January 20, 2016: Our order list for our next expansion of library telescopes has grown to 26 telescopes.  St. Louis County will be expanding the library telescope program to all remaining branches. De Soto Public Library and Festus Public Library in Jefferson County will be joining the program.  Several libraries already in the program will also be adding more telescopes.  Collectively, these additions will bring the area count to 85 library telescopes.  Stay tuned as more orders still may be received.

Update on January 13, 2016:  The St. Louis Astronomical Society donated two additional telescopes to St. Louis County Library raising the St. Louis area count to 59 telescopes.  Funding for the two telescopes was from the St. Louis Astronomical Society winning a national award from Astronomy Magazine called the Out-of-this-World Award. Eric Button, Assistant Director  Branch Services for St. Louis County Library was excited to accept the telescopes which will be placed into the Grant's View and Thornhill Branches of St. Louis County Library.  The St. Louis Astronomical Society decided to donate these telescopes to St. Louis County Library because it had over 572 patrons waiting to checkout library telescopes.

Update on December 31, 2015: The next orders for library telescopes are due from libraries by February 1, 2016.  Once orders are taken and the telescopes are  received from our suppliers, our library telescope volunteers will spend six hours per telescope to make the necessary changes for public use.  Delivery should be within 60-90 days of order placement.  Interested libraries should contact us at librarytelescope@slasonline.org

Update on September 8, 2015: SLAS is partnering with SIUE to expand the SLAS Library Telescope program into Edwardsville and Collinsville Illinois.  Three telescopes will be added to the Edwardsville Public Library and two telescopes added to the Mississippi Valley Library District in Collinsville.   Funding for the telescopes was coordinated directly by the libraries.  The telescopes will be available for patron checkout on October 1, 2015.  SIUE will partner with SLAS to provide maintenance and program support.

Update on July 20, 2015: St. Louis County Library reports that 478 patrons are on a list to checkout a library telescope.  One library branch, the Tesson Ferry Branch of St. Louis County Library,  reports of 91 patrons.  These reports are similar to reports we are hearing from other libraries.  We estimate that nearly 1,000 patrons are waiting to checkout out a telescope in the regional St. Louis area. 

Update on May 29, 2015:  Effective today, thirty four (34) telescopes were added to the St. Louis area library telescope program.  With this addition, fifty two (52) library telescopes are now available for checkout by library patrons.  

Update on May 14, 2015:  Telescope deliveries to libraries are now complete.  Check our Flickr Photo album for photos of delivery.

The next step is for libraries to catalog the telescopes into their library system.  Once cataloged, the telescopes will be disbursed to their final branch location for public checkout. 

The official date for public checkout remains Friday, May 29th.  However, some libraries may release the telescopes for public checkout earlier than this date.  Check with your local library to determine their plans.

Update on May 11, 2015:  Seven volunteers from SLAS completed quality checks on the 50 telescopes.  All telescopes were star tested and double checked for quality issues.  Telescopes destined for libraries were approved for delivery.  Hurrah!

Update on May 10, 2015:  The weekend library telescope "build" at Parkway West High School went great. 

Just after lunch on Friday, May 8th, 50 telescopes were delivered to Parkway West High School and were taken by students to the Science Labs. 

Update on May 7, 2015:  Everything is a "go" for our Saturday, May 9th build at Parkway West High School.  Workers should arrive at 8:30 am with work to start at 9am. We plan to be done by 5pm. 
Learn More 

Update on April 29, 2015:   Staff received a 30 minute orientation on the library telescope including "hands on" time with the telescope. All training was held during the business day which created challenges for some volunteers. Congratulations to the 18 trainers who volunteered their time to complete this important step to prepare the library staff for the May 29th program rollout of an additional 34 telescopes. 

Update on April 28, 2015:  The telescopes arrived just before noon today.  It took two UPS trucks to deliver the goods. Behind this photo of the telescopes is my Ford F-150. Too bad you can't see it.  Donna Ficken, retired Special Education District Teacher, agreed to pose with the telescopes to demonstrate the size of the boxes.    Our May 9th "build" at Parkway West High School is on track!

Library Telescopes Delivered

Update on April 24, 2015:  The telescopes have shipped from our supplier and will be delivered to us on Tuesday, April 28th by UPS.  The shipment will be 45 telescopes which will take a full UPS truck.  We already have 5 partially upgraded trainer telescopes in hand which makes our May 9th "build" at Parkway West High a total of 50 telescopes.  Yikes!

Update on April 21, 2015:  Our telescope program deployment schedule has been delayed by two weeks due to problems with our supplier shipping the telescopes to us.   All dates on this page have been adjusted to the revised schedule.


Astronomy Magazine Award

The St. Louis Astronomical Society won a national award from Astonomy Magazine called the Out-of-this-World Award.  SLAS won the award in part due to the success of the SLAS Library Telescope Program. SLAS received a $2,500 check from Astronomy magazine of which a portion of the funds will be used to purchase two additional library telescopes for distribution to an "...underserved area of North County".  The telescopes will be "built" during our May 9th workday at Parkway West High School. The locations where the two (2) telescopes will be deployed will be decided later this year.


Volunteer Recognition

The SLAS Library Telescope Program is supported by a team of volunteers that make the program possible for the 39 library locations where the telescopes are available for public checkout in the St. Louis regional area.  Volunteers help train the library staff and public on how to use the library telescope, and also help with routine maintenance.  SLAS recognizes volunteers each quarter at our regular monthly meeting.  To see the most recent list of volunteers recognized, please click on the following link:

Library Telescope Recognition - First Qtr 2015. 


May 9th Upgrade Party at Parkway West High School

To get ready for our May 29th deployment, an "upgrade party" is scheduled for Saturday, May 9th from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Parkway West High School has graciously agreed to donate their science labs, so we just need volunteers.   Volunteers are requested from SLAS, ASEM and participating libraries.  For more information about volunteering, please email us at librarytelescope@slasonline.org


How to plan star parties for your library

Download the most recent guides to get the most out of your St. Louis Astronomical Society Library Telescope Program:

How to use your library telescope:

Quick Start Guide: Download

Observing Guide: Download

How to plan star parties for your library:

Star Party Scheduling Guide: Download

Did you miss our January 29th library telescope training?

Over 40 SLAS members and invited guests attended a two hour program designed to get volunteers familiar with how to support library telescope star parties. If you missed the training, you are in luck!  You can download a PDF of the presentation by clicking here


In The News

The launch of the SLAS Library Telescope in 2014 had great news coverage...

Click here to see our October 28, 2014 press release: SLAS Press Release

Here are links to television, radio, print and social media coverage on our project:


Telescopes Upgraded by SLAS

Each Orion StarBlast 4.5" Reflector Telescope was modified by SLAS to be more patron friendly and durable and is equipped with accessories to help library patrons explore the night sky.  More than six hours of modification time was placed into each telescope.  Here is a photo of the team that made the upgrades:

  SLAS Work Team 

 

 

 

 

Watch this fun movie of the modifications in process:

HDmovie (36mb)

M4V movie (4mb)


 

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