Presque Isle library singled out for National Science Foundation pilot project

Posted Oct. 11, 2012, at 6:08 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Throughout their school years, students participate in a variety of science courses.

But unless they choose a career in the field, most people do not spend much time thinking about science as adults.

But officials with the National Science Foundation are looking to change that, and they have singled out a Presque Isle library to help them do it.

Dianna Leighton, youth librarian with the Mark and Emily Turner Library, announced earlier this week that the facility was one of 20 public libraries in the U.S. chosen by the NSF to take part in its new “Pushing The Limits: Making Sense of Science” pilot project.

The five-part reading, viewing and discussion series is catered toward adults who live in communities served by rural libraries.

The library was awarded a $2,500 grant to help get the program up and running.

The Presque Isle library was the only one in Maine chosen to take part, according to NSF officials. Based on the response of people in the 20 pilot sites, the foundation hopes to expand their program to 100 additional rural libraries.

The national program is the work of a team of library professionals; scientists and filmmakers from Dartmouth College; The Association for Rural and Small Libraries; The Califa Group, which is a California-based library consortium; Dawson Media Group; and Oregon State University.

Participants in Presque Isle will focus on how advances in science and technology have led to inventions, innovations and ideas that humans once never thought possible.

The Pushing the Limits program will explore these advances and ideas in discussions led by a Science, Technology, Engineering, Math [STEM] professional using a blended science cafe and book club model that will include both recommended popular book readings and feature films.

Leighton said the library is partnering with Dr. Rachael Hannah, assistant professor of biology at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, on its piece of the pilot project. Hannah will be leading discussions and assisting the library with programming.

With the new project, the NSF is hoping to attract more attention and engage more interest in small and rural public libraries. According to statistics provided by the foundation, 77 percent of the 16,604 public libraries in the nation are located in communities with populations of 25,000 people or less.

The pilot project aims to provide such communities with good programs to bring people together.

The Turner Memorial Library Pushing the Limits program will begin early next year.

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