Sometimes library patrons not only want to find knowledge at their library, but expand it. One way they can do that is by contributing to citizen science, where ordinary people help advance scientific research by collecting data and keeping their eyes open. As MythBusters’ Adam Savage put it, “the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down,” and citizen science projects can help with that recording!
The SciStarter website maintains a directory of citizen science projects, ranging from performing censuses of earthworms to looking for asteroids or even alien life. Some projects, like the Transcribing Torrey project run by the Mertz Library at the New York Botanical Garden, even invite ordinary people to assist with bibliographic research!
Libraries can help facilitate citizen science by directing patrons to projects in their service area, lending out kits and instruments, and holding programs and events. SciStarter has recently run pilot projects with libraries and has launched a new resource page for libraries.
This year’s Citizen Science Month is April. Consider getting involved and launching a citizen science project at your library!