Recently at my library, we've been digging into circulating non-traditional items and one of the items I'm the most excited about is our telescope collection. Taking a page from several other initiatives, like Ann Arbor and NHAS, we are partnering with the Lake County Astronomical Society to circulate 5 Orion StarBlast 4.5" Telescopes for our community.
The thing is, telescopes are a different ball game. While my library has a tradition of circulating non-traditional devices (see what I did there?), we've never circulated something that can literally burn holes in your retina. (I know.) But one of the reasons I absolutely love my library is that we try to be really thoughtful about our choices and plan well. We know there's risk but the reward is so great. So here's a bit of our process...
First, we created a small committee - the telescope team - which consisted of several public service department representatives, our leader (our Assistant Director Erica Christianson), and a cataloger. Our cataloger is awesome and really added a lot to the team. He would bring up ideas like shelf presence and home locations for items. Representatives from our Circulation Department were also crucial for many reasons, including discussing lending policies and check out procedures. Then we had people from Popular Materials (that's me!), Adult Reference, and the Children's Department.
The committee began meeting with our partner at the astronomical society - I like to refer to him as our astrophysicist. And as we began meeting, we discussed all sorts of important aspects, such as:
The telescopes just soft-launched earlier this month and it's been absolutely amazing to watch our patrons proudly walk out of the library with a tool of science. Considering that the telescopes are already on a waiting list because of word of mouth, we are already anticipating purchasing more! You can also view the seriously fun (and hilarious) video for our telescope here: http://youtu.be/Zv9eMIb94Ug. The previously mentioned awesome cataloger is the star!
Now the telescope team has turned into an Experiential Learning committee and we're looking at what we want to circulate next...truly, the sky is the limit. I am so proud to work at the Ela Area Public Library.