Brookings Library, students to help patrons ‘discover the sky’

BROOKINGS – The Brookings Public Library recently added to its Summer Reading Program a collection of nine telescopes that will soon be available for check-out. 

Anyone 18 years or older with a valid Brookings library card will be able to check out a telescope for up to a week of use. There are two versions of the telescopes: motorized and non-motorized. The telescopes that are motorized have a GPS in them where the user can program and find certain planets or stars in the night sky.

South Dakota State University astronomy and physics lecturer Judy Vondruska coordinated with Technology Services Librarian Nancy Swenson to develop the program. Funding came from a South Dakota Community Foundation grant, the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium, and matching funds from the library as well as the “Science at the Pub” event hosted at Jim’s Tap.

Each telescope comes with a set of easy-to-read instructions that Vondruska had her astronomy students create as their final project for the semester.

The telescopes are of “higher-end quality” but also “introductory,” said Vondruska. They are to “share in that amazement of discovering the sky.” 

Telescopes are not the only available items at the library; there are also “maker kits,” which are hands-on systems that allow kids to work on concepts like programming, electrical engineering, and physics. “We’ve become a library of things,” said Swenson.

The Brookings Public Library will be one of the few libraries in the country that offer telescopes to be checked out. The program is set to begin in early June.

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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