How What We Did in 2017 Can Help us Plan for 2023-24

  • How What We Did in 2017 Can Help us Plan for 2023-24

    Posted by Andrew Fraknoi on June 17, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    Hello. I am Andrew Fraknoi, one of the astronomer/educators working with the STARNet staff to help libraries become community centers for eclipse viewing and understanding in 2023 and 2024. Many of us were involved with library eclipse programs during the solar eclipse of 2017, and the lessons learned then will be a big help as we plan for the upcoming eclipses. If you had a really good experience or outreach idea in 2017, this would be a good place to share what worked and what challenges you overcame.

    Becky Isbell replied 3 months ago 2 Members · 1 Reply
  • 1 Reply
  • Becky Isbell

    August 23, 2022 at 11:17 am
    40 Coins
    3 Gems

    Our eclipse event was grand and really united the community and helped place the library in people’s minds as an essential place/organization in our community. We shut down the street behind the library and pretty much had a party out there. We got donations of hot dogs and a local guy brought his smoker and cooked them.

    People still talk about the library’s eclipse event, say we should do it again. (Um… we kind of need an eclipse?) So we’re super excited to do this.

    We did run out of glasses (and had a few complaints), but people shared and overall were very friendly.

    A few thoughts from my experience:

    1. We are a non-profit library that gets funding from two cities and the county. I shared about the event at the city council meetings and gave eclipse glasses to the councilmembers. It was a great opportunity to talk up the library and build goodwill.

    2. I think it was a little unclear at first if we were allow to hand out glasses before the event or if they should only be at the event. Later, STARNET clarified that they should only be given out at the event. I really appreciated this, because I got a lot of sob stories it was hard to turn down. It made it so much simpler to be able to say, “Sorry, our partners on this project require that we only give them out for the event.” (Though I still think giving to council members was extremely valuable for building goodwill.)

    3. Last time it was basically a small festival. This time, I’d like to expand it more and turn it even more into a festival. I hope to partner with the Fair Association to hold it at the rodeo grounds, where there will be plenty of space for seeing the sky as well as parking. Perhaps have other things to build the festive atmosphere, such as food trucks, bounce house, etc.

    4. We also provided folks the opportunity to go inside and watch the NASA livestream. I think people appreciated being able to get out of the heat.

    5. Apart from that, the bones of this program are really simple. It practically markets itself, as everyone is excited about the eclipse. There were no other programs in our area and the stores had run out of eclipse glasses, so lots of people came to the library.