ALA Annual 2012

Science in the Stacks! #ala12

Have you seen all the amazing photos and articles about the Discovery Center in Queens, NY? It’s a library that is all science, all the time. Amazing! The folks from the Queens Children’s Library Discovery Center gave a program at ALA emphasizing that no matter what your space and budgetary constraints, you can mix science into your library. A few ideas from the well-attended session:

  • Connect hands-on science stations or science activity sheets in the branch with the Dewey stacks. For example, next to a butterfly activity, have a sign leading to the 595s. Similarly, have a sign by the butterfly books suggesting children do the activity.
  • Focus on doing science with children, as opposed to instructing them. It’s not school! Be hands-on.
  • Reinforce skills associated with science: observation, measuring, estimation, etc. Activity examples include having kids track the development of a growing plant over the summer or having them estimate the number of books on a display.
  • Get teens to help–children are excited by young people who enthusiastically share science with them.
  • Need ideas for programs? Look to educational standards for age-appropriate topics and the internet for hands-on activities.

My library has an airplane science program coming up later this summer, and in the meantime I intend to think of informal ways to add science activities in the branch. Right now I’m thinking of science signage in the nonfiction stacks and take-home science activities (instead of just take-home crafts).

What are some of your successes and/or ideas for science at the library?


I am the Children’s Librarian at the Corporate Parkway Branch of the St. Charles City-County Library District in Missouri. I am active in ALSC, and I blog as the Show Me Librarian at


  1. Panchapagesan Bharathan

    I am excited by your programs on Science. As of now we have very simple programs with Sodium Bicarbonate, Acetic Acid , Magnets, Corks, Diet Coke, Regular Coke and so on. I am glad to learn about your Airplane Science program. To the best of my information the Wright Brothers got information on Air Dynamics from Scientific American from a public library. Public Library had a small but significant role in the invention of the first flight. My email is I shall be happy to receive data about your programs and shall love to share my programs. As my name is a tongue twister, I call myself Bud.

    1. Amy Koester

      What great ideas, Bud! I’m having fun planning my upcoming airplane science program, and already a number of kids are looking forward to designing “the best” paper airplane.

      As for more ideas… I wrote an ALSC blog post on school-age science programming in the spring; you could check that out for some more ideas ( Also, I try to post all of my successful programs on my personal blog–check there for more science programs after I give them a shot!

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