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Local libraries give free eclipse glasses

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – Dozens of libraries across Indiana have given away thousands of free solar eclipse glasses, thanks to a grant.

The “Safe Eclipse Glasses” grant was supplied through STARnet, an organization that offers science technology activities for libraries around the country, sponsored namely by Google and NASA, among others.

“The grant that our youth librarian won, Julie Myers, was for 1,000 solar eclipse sunglasses and we’ve been giving those away since August 10th,” says Virginia Hilbert, Marketing Director for Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library in Zionsville.

Libraries around the country could apply to receive either 200 eclipse glasses or 1,000 glasses. Myers applied for 1,000 glasses and admits she didn’t expect to be able to use them.

“I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to give them all away, so I contacted the schools and was able to give 400 glasses to the [Zionsville Schools] district,” says Myers.

Myers set aside 200 eclipse glasses for people who would participate in special programs that were required in order to receive the grant. Myers, along with library leaders, brought in the CEO of the Link Observatory, Greg McCauley to speak in two special sessions Monday, Aug. 14.

The remaining 400 eclipse glasses were set aside for public distribution at the library and were picked up quickly.

“We were not expecting a huge response, but honestly it just exploded,” says Hilbert. “[They were gone] within 30 minutes. It was amazing. And there were lines out the door!”

The approved eclipse glasses block out 100,000 times more light than ordinary sunglasses.

Seven libraries in the immediate Indianapolis area got them through the grant. These glasses will be available for children and families that attend a free eclipse educational program.

  • Butler (Ruth Lilly Science Library, Butler Univ)
  • Carmel (Carmel Clay Public Library)
  • Fishers (Hamilton East Public Library)
  • Lawrence (Indianapolis Public Library)
  • Perry Twp (Perry Meridian Middle School)
  • Westfield (Westfield Washington Public Library)
  • Zionsville (Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library)

Buying approved solar eclipse glasses has proven challenging lately. On Aug. 12, online retailer Amazon began emailing customers about a safety recall and refunded customers who bought fake glasses on its site.

“They’re putting a lot of effort into informing adults and children,” says Pooja Garg, a mother who brought her one-year old daughter to a child-focused learning session about the eclipse.

No matter the age of the student, the eclipse has created opportunities for learning.

“Even if we just have one person interested in that topic and then goes on to do amazing things, we’ve been very successful,” says Hilbert.

In total, 75 libraries around Indiana received the STARnet grant.

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