Originally published in MOREnetworking Vol. 2 No. 2, Jan. 2005
How would you like to visit the moon without leaving the building?
On Oct. 21, 2004, patrons of St. Louis County Library and Little Dixie Library in Moberly visited the moon via “Monumental Moon,” a videoconferencing program featuring live, detailed images of the moon and an interactive discussion about lunar history and geology.
“The Monumental Moon project was slightly experimental,” said Josh Cochran, observatory program specialist and one of the presenters. “It was first in a line of newly renovated interactive distance learning (IDL) programming provided by the Pittsburgh State University (PSU)-Greenbush Astrophysical Observatory.”
The observatory generally offers IDL programming for schools. Tailoring content for the library required creative thinking. “Library groups generally consist of adults who have interest in the discussion topic, which allows the IDL presenter to focus on deeper content behind science discoveries,” Cochran said.
“I think that the program went very well,” said Little Dixie Regional Libraries Director Karen Hayden. “It was great that the instructor actually spoke to the young girls that were in the group and asked them to help him with the math work. They were thrilled to help. And I enjoyed looking at the moon!”
“Our patrons at the Sachs Branch found the discussion engaging. [They] took advantage of the videoconferencing technology to ask direct questions of the observatory staff,” Marilyn Niebling, Sachs Computer Lab instructor at the St. Louis County Library, said. “They continued to talk enthusiastically about the program even after the actual conference concluded, and found that it further heightened their curiosity about the moon itself.”
The program was presented by the PSU-Greenbush Astrophysical Observatory, in coordination with MOREnet and the Missouri State Library. The videoconferencing equipment at the Little Dixie Regional Library was funded by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds from the secretary of state’s office and the Missouri State Library.
“Monumental Moon” was not MOREnet’s first collaboration with Greenbush. In September 2004, Missouri schools in Naylor, Neelyville and Mountain Grove participated in a Rain Forest Virtual Field Trip, sponsored and paid for by MOREnet with content from Greenbush.
“Hopefully we’ll have a chance to be involved in other distance learning programs for our patrons in the future,” Niebling said. “I think we can rate this first experience as a success!”
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