Public Programs Office extends “Visions of the Universe” traveling exhibit tour

Contact: Angela Thullen

Program Officer, Communications



For Immediate Release,

February 23, 2010

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office announced that 15 additional public libraries will host “Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery,” a traveling exhibition developed in cooperation with the Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to celebrate astronomy and its contributions to society and culture.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provided major funding for the exhibit.

Forty public libraries hosted the exhibit from January 2009 through April 2010, showing the public how our understanding of the universe has changed over time.

Thanks to supplementary funding from NASA, the exhibit will travel to the 15 additional selected libraries from April 2010 through May 2011.

In addition to hosting the exhibit, the selected libraries will also receive stipends of $500 to assist in program expenses and purchase of exhibit-related materials for library collections. Additionally, the 15 selected libraries will be invited to pilot a new program from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory called “Scientists on Reserve,” which features live teleconferences with astronomers and other scientists.

The exhibit is part of a multi-year global celebration of astronomy, highlighted by the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo. The goal of the continuing celebration is to create awareness of astronomy’s impact on 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. For more information about “Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery,” visit

The libraries selected to host the “Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery” exhibit (in alphabetical order by state) are: 1. William F. Laman Public Library, North Little Rock, Ark. 2. Fort Bragg Branch of the Mendocino County Library, Fort Bragg, Calif. 3. Sunnyvale Public Library, Sunnyvale, Calif. 4. Marion County Public Library, Buena Vista, Ga. 5. Johnston Public Library, Johnston, Iowa 6. Washington County Free Library, Hagerstown, Md. 7. Lincoln Township Public Library, Stevensville, Mich. 8. Maryville Public Library, Maryville, Mo. 9. Nelson Public Library, Nelson, Neb. 10. Sidney Memorial Public Library, Sidney, N.Y. 11. Holly Springs Community Library, Holly Springs, N.C. 12. West Unity Branch Library, West Unity, Ohio 13. Dorchester County Library, Summerville Branch, Summerville, S.C. 14. North Olympic Library System, Port Angeles Main Library, Port Angeles, Wash. 15. Natrona County Public Library, Casper, Wyo.

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”:

The ALA Public Programs Office promotes cultural and community programming as an essential part of library service in all types and sizes of libraries. Successful library programming initiatives have included “Let’s Talk About It” reading and discussion series, traveling exhibitions, film discussion programs, the Great Stories CLUB, Live! @ your library and more. Recently, the ALA Public Programs Office developed, an online resource center bringing librarians timely and valuable information to support them in the creation of high-quality cultural programs for their communities. For more information on the ALA Public Programs Office, visit

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