Contact: Angela Thullen

ALA Public Programs Office

(312) 280-5286


For Immediate Release

July 15, 2008

New traveling exhibit brings space exploration to public libraries

Apply by Sept. 19 to host “Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery”

CHICAGO – Public libraries are invited to apply to host “Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery,” a traveling exhibition developed by the America Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office in cooperation with the Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, to mark the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. The exhibit will travel to 40 selected public libraries from January 2009 through December 2010.

Applications are available at and must be submitted to ALA by Sept. 19. Selected libraries will be announced in late October.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have provided major funding for the exhibit. Exhibit sponsors are especially interested in receiving applications from public libraries in small towns and rural areas that have limited access to NASA resources, as well as from public libraries in larger population centers. The exhibit requires just 150 - 200 square feet of display space. All libraries on the tour will receive $500 programming support stipends, $250 collection development stipends and additional materials to support library programming.

The International Astronomical Union has proclaimed 2009 the International Year of Astronomy as an opportunity to create awareness of astronomy’s contributions to society and culture, stimulate young people’s interest in astronomy and science, portray astronomy as a

global peaceful endeavor and nourish a scientific outlook in society. “Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery” focuses on astronomy through the ages—from Galileo’s initial findings to the latest results of the Hubble Space Telescope. The exhibit vividly illustrates 400 years of growth in our knowledge of not just planets, stars, nebulae and galaxies, but also the size and scale of the universe in both space and time.

The Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach (OPO) is a world leader in astronomy presentation through news media Web sites, planetarium shows, museum exhibits, curriculum support materials, professional development and other educational resources. Among the award-winning Web sites created by the OPO are “Hubblesite”: and “Amazing Space”:

Established in 1992, the ALA Public Programs Office has an exemplary record of developing library programming initiatives, including the acclaimed reading and discussion series "Let's Talk About It!," film discussion programs on humanities themes, traveling exhibitions, LIVE! @ your library® and other programs. Recently, it has established the Cultural Communities Fund, an endowment fund created to help all types of libraries across the country bring communities together through cultural programming ( More than 10,000 libraries and at least 10 million individuals have participated in library programming initiatives supported by the Public Programs Office.

For more information about “Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery,” visit