Libraries in the Panhandle in the path of the 2017 total solar eclipse are bracing for an influx of readers over the next six weeks.
The libraries are encouraging residents to come in and check out their books.
Sherry Preston, public services librarian at the Gering Public Library has several adult books about astronomy and the solar system as well as a children’s book, “Eclipses” by Nick Hunter, which discusses the phenomenon.
Once the summer reading program in Gering concludes at the end of July, Preston will be creating informational displays and showcasing their books for the public as well as pamphlets and other handouts to help local residents prepare for the eclipse.
Preston expects interest in the eclipse will begin to pick up over the next few weeks.
“Sometimes, when there is something going on, people want more information and they will come in looking for it,” Preston said.
The Lied Scottsbluff Public Library also has several eclipse and science related books for the public’s reading pleasure. Noelle Thompson, library director, Lied Scottsbluff Public Library, has made purchases of eclipse- and science-related books for readers.
“The thing about learning is it doesn’t occur in isolation,” Thompson said. “The eclipse comes, so you want to learn about the moon and then the sun and then space. Then you want to learn about all the possibilities in the universe.”
In Alliance, the Friends of the Library Foundation requested Library Director Stephanie O’Connor spend money specifically on books about the eclipse. They ordered them in April and put them out on display as soon as they arrived, but they didn’t begin circulating that much until the middle of June.
“People tend to be more excited more toward the last minute,” O’Connor said. “With Alliance being on the path (of totality) we thought it would be a huge disservice to patrons to not have the books.”
Preston has a limited amount of solar eclipse glasses the library will be giving out. Staff will also be helping out at the Five Rocks Amphitheatre on the day of the eclipse. The library will be closed for a time on the morning of Aug. 21, but will be open in the afternoon.
O’Connor also had some help from Pat Gross with the Western Library Systems. Gross provided links to activity books for children. Although the Alliance Library ordered 100 each of the activity books, she said they are “selling like crazy” and she expects her inventory will be soon be gone.
Books at the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library include children’s books, non-fiction related to science and the eclipse and fiction books where eclipses occur and are part of the story. One of the newest additions is “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
“It’s written for people who aren’t into science,” Thompson said.
More books are on the way. The Lied Scottsbluff Public Library’s book club will be reading “The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut” by Clayton Anderson and “Sharpie: The Life Story of Evelyn Sharp, Nebraska Aviatrix” by Diane Ruth Armour Bartels. Both stories are about Nebraskans.
The Lied Scottsbluff Public Library also has many more ebooks on Overdrive, “American Eclipse” by David Baron and “When the Sun Goes Dark” by Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz
With all those options, there is a book for every person and a person for every book, Thompson said.
For more information about books in Gering, contact the Gering Public Library at 308-436-7433.
The Alliance Public Library is also hosting a Science Fair with an eclipse theme for children in grades K-12. Each age group will win a prize and their projects will be on display eclipse weekend at the Alliance Library. O’Connor admits she’s biased, but she hopes people come to see the library during their visit. O’Connor has several other activities for the community leading up to Aug. 21. For more information, contact the Alliance Library at 308-762-1387 or visit http://libraries.ne.gov/alliance/.
The Lied Scottsbluff Public Library will be open during the eclipse, though Thompson doesn’t think anyone will actually be visiting that day. Scottsbluff has been given a limited amount of solar eclipse glasses from STAR Net, which will be distributed a week before the big event. For more information about available books, contact the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library at 308-630-6250.