A Guest Post by Nicole Steele/Slover Library

After the initial euphoria of being selected to host Discover NASA: From Our Town to Outer Space had settled down a little bit, it was time to face facts. Now that we were going to get the exhibit, we had to actually flesh out not only the programming, but the partnerships that would allow us to provide that programming.

We began where you might expect. We enlisted staff, current community partners, family and friends, to help develop a contact list of not only potential partners, but organizations and individuals in the community we thought might be able to help us broaden the Discover NASA reach (and possibly lead us to more partnerships). The list we ended up with was a little bit overwhelming.

That was when the Teen Floor supervisor had a brainwave: what if we didn’t reach out to each contact individually. What if we invited them to come to us? It was an idea everyone could get behind. The contact list was split between staff members and the following form invite was emailed:

Dear _________,

You have been selected for “Astronaut Training” by the Slover Library.

Pre-Mission Briefing: Slover Library was selected to be one of six sites nationwide to host a new exhibit, Discover NASA: From Our Town to Outer Space. The exhibition was organized by the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning with a grant from NASA. Discover NASA makes learning science fun with hands-on, multimedia activities starting in late October 2016.

We are recruiting you and your organization to be community partners for this exciting event. Join us for pastries and coffee.

Report for Duty: Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Countdown Begins: 08:30 “oh eight thirty”
Launch Site: Slover Library #650
Commanding Officer: ____your name and phone number here_______

Visit http://evite.me/saBBQFtQrQ for more details and to RSVP.

It was decided that the event should be hosted on a Wednesday so that people would have the chance to catch up on regular work at the beginning of the week, and so that it might be easier to remember the event. It was also decided that the event should be at 8:30 AM so people could come out on their way in to the office, as opposed to having to leave the office in the middle of the day. Another reason having it so early worked out is that it is much more affordable to feed people coffee and muffins than lunch!


Astronaut Training Card

For the event itself we develop a short slideshow presentation detailing the exhibit, its mission, and what we were looking for in potential partners. After we gave the presentation we invited participants to talk with the other guests at their table to brainstorm programming and marketing ideas. We also developed an “Astronaut Training” card, on which we asked the guests to write their ideas, along with personal contact details.

All told, we had about 50 guests come out to our “Astronaut Training” event. Several more obvious partnerships evolved, including a partnership with the director of the planetarium of a local university. There were also few less conventional partnerships: one of the guests was an organizer for the yearly Children’s Festival parade, and volunteered to make the parade space-themed. Since the parade took place just under a month before our kick-off was scheduled it was the perfect advertising opportunity! Some guests ended up not partnering with us, but were excited and eager to help spread the word. Others were interested in scheduling field trips and tours.

We are very lucky at Slover to have not only a PR team but a Community Engagement Coordinator and the Slover Foundation, who were to help us advertise, organize and implement, and provide refreshments respectively. However, I believe it would not be difficult to adapt this concept to fit any size library or budget. Though we didn’t do it for this particular event, I think it would be cool to offer a small, fun activity or craft (which could be substituted for refreshments if desired).