Vernon Area library offers telescopes to check out
Patrons of the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire now can check out telescopes as easily as books, DVDs and video games.
Vernon Area purchased nine Orion StarBlast telescopes in January for about $200 each. Funding came from a trust benefiting the library.
The library's first telescope was donated by the Lake County Astronomical Society, which also has given telescopes to the Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich, the Fremont Public Library in Mundelein and the Indian Trails Public Library in Wheeling.
Vernon's telescopes have been available for checkouts since mid-February, after a staff training period, library communications coordinator Becky Ferguson said.
Each one comes with kit that includes a compass, a constellation guide and even a red-light headlamp that allows people to scan guides or charts in the dark.
Patron demand has been high.
"As of today, there are 43 holds," Ferguson said.
Officials are considering shortening the three-week checkout period to ensure more people can use the equipment, Ferguson said.
Telescopes are among the newest tools offered for checkout at suburban libraries. Some facilities have GoPro cameras and iPad tablet computers for patrons.
Telescopes are a natural extension of a library's collection, Ferguson said.
"(They) offer an unparalleled, hands-on learning experience," she said.
Anyone with a Vernon Area card can borrow a telescope at the library, 300 Olde Half Day Road. For more information, call (224) 543-1485.