Science in NSW libraries

From inviting leading researchers to discuss their work with the public to presenting coding workshops, make spaces, Little Bang Discovery Clubs and Museums in a Box, the NSW library network is increasingly bringing science and technology to regional communities. Many libraries are seeking to deliver regular science outreach programs. Inspiring Australia can help connect leading STEM researchers with library program managers.

For example, we have been working closely with Wagga Wagga City Library for the past four years as part of our Regional Science Hub intiative. With our support, the library organises the Riverina Science Festival in August, bringing together the region’s science and engineering leaders.

The library also presents a dynamic program of regular science activities for adults, from lectures and hands on activities to Nerd Nites in the local pub and science encounters in unexpected places. In addition, the library offers programs for younger patrons, including Code Club and Little Bang (see below).

We’ve also been programming science talks with City of Sydney Libraries for three years. Each month, we invite two researchers present informal talks and take questions from the audience. We also use this succesful talks format to tap into large festivals like VIVID Ideas, with this year’s offering on 22 June at Customs House looking at how writers are working with researchers to bring attention to the cultural issues around preventable disease.

Engaging the regions

Library patrons across NSW will soon have the chance to enjoy similar public programs presented in libraries by science and engineering researchers. Fourteen regional libraries have agreed to join us to develop regular encounters with scientists. We’ve helped connect them with researchers across a range of disciplines who, in the coming months, will explain what they do and why their work matters.

We now have programs established at libraries in North Sydney, Lake Macquarie, Yass Valley, Parramatta and Parkes. Other programs are in planning at libraries in the Southern Tablelands, Sutherland, Concord, Kempsey, Upper Lachlan, Yass Valley, Hunter, Goulburn, Port Macquarie Hastings, Armidale and Coffs Harbour regions.

Coming up

  • In North Sydney on 6 June, Dr Helen Maynard-Casely, a Planetary Scientist based at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), will discuss her work examining the neutrons and synchrotron x-rays to investigate the materials that make up our solar system. Register to attend
  • Also at North Sydney in July, leading environmental expert, Arek Sinanianwill discuss the issues and insights surrounding climate change which are explored in his book, A Climate for Denial. Register to attend
  • Our Customs House Library Vivid Ideas event on 22 June, Can Writers Prevent Disease? brings Professor Steve Simpson together with authors Charlotte Wood and Alana Valentine to discuss why a leading research institute established to tackle obesity, diabtes and heart disease has decided to engage writers in residence.  Register to attend
  • Yass Valley library welcomes patrons on 6 June to discover the regions reptile with Geoff Robertson, who is active in many conservation organisations and has a particular interest in local reptiles. Register to attend
  • Charlestown library will present a host pf events during National Science Week with program details being finalised. Stay in touch via its website
  • Parkes library will host a seed-bomb making workshop in June. The library will also offer events to mark National Science Week and in September, will welcome local high school student Yasmin Pottsm to share learnings from participating in the London Youth Science Forum and visiting the Large Hadron Collider. Stay in touch via its website
  • The Riverina Science Hub led by Wagga Wagga City Library will present the Grong Grong Star picnic on Sunday 24 June at the Grong Grong Sports Club. In August the Library will again present its wonderful Riverina Science Festival. Stay in touch via Facebook.

Science for children

Libraries are also bringing science to children, with the Little Bang Discovery Club program being rolled out for preschoolers and early primary school aged children. Over a four week course, Little Bang develops knowledge and confidence to enhance early scientific exploration, discovery and learning – the hallmarks of critical thinking and innovation.

Librarians or early childhood specialists who would like to run the course as part of their ongoing educational programs are encouraged to participate in a training program. Find out more

Museum in a box

Also in many libraries is Museum in a Box, an outreach program developed by the Australian Museum for educational institutions. There are more than 30 different boxes available for loan that contain real museum specimens, casts, artefacts, dioramas, images, DVDs, CDs, books and resources. Each box is available for a three-week loan period and can be sent to any educational institution across Australia, including libraries. Find out more

Get involved

We look forward to connecting more researchers with regional libraries and invite you to contact us at if you would like to get involved.