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Oklahoma State University

Edmon Low Library wins award for “Science Café”

Mon, May 04, 2015
Oklahoma State University Library has won a nation award for its series of Science Café community programs on the oil and gas industry. Pictured are panelist (from left) state Rep. Cory Williams of Stillwater, Dr. Todd Halihan, OSU hydrogeophysics professor, Amberlee Darold, a research seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, and Dr. Tamara Mix, OSU associate professor of sociology. The group spoke at a Science Café program at Stillwater Public Library in November 2014.

The Oklahoma State University Library has won the prestigious American Library Association’s 2015 Excellence in Library Programming Award for its series of Science Café programs on the oil and gas industry. This award goes to a library that provides programs that encourage learning and awareness and have community impact.

“We were honored to receive this national award for library programming,” said Karen Neurohr, OSU librarian and Science Café coordinator. “It’s our mission as a land-grant institution to engage with the community. The Science Café is just one of the many ways OSU does that not only at the local level, but in Oklahoma, and also nationally and internationally.”

OSU’s Edmon Low Library hosted “Hydraulic Fracturing: Implications for Land, Water, and Communities,” a program that provided scientific research behind issues involving the state’s energy industry, including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The first event at the OSU Library in April 2014 set aScience Café attendance record with a crowd of 155.

“We advertised this Science Café the same way we’ve advertised others, through fliers, an outdoor sign, and email, Neurohr said. “Word spread from there. In addition, there’s a grassroots association opposed to hydraulic fracturing in Stillwater, so the people associated with it spread the word, too.”

The campus program was so successful four additional programs on the topic were held at Stillwater Public Library. The presentations featured at the community series of Science Cafés included “Drilling Basics,” “Communities and Housing,” “Costs and Benefits” and a question and answer forum. In all, 281 people attended the series.

“Not a week goes by in Oklahoma without news stories related to earthquakes, hydraulic fracturing and the oil and gas industry,” Neurohr said. “The Science Café programs creatively used existing resources and partnerships to reach new audiences in addressing the community’s need for information.”

The American Library Association introduced the Excellence in Library Programming Award in 2013 and OSU’s Edmon Low is the first academic library to win the award. OSU will receive its $5,000 award and citation of achievement at the association’s annual conference in San Francisco in June. Sheila Johnson, dean of the OSU libraries, said the award money will be used to fund library programming.

Science Café at OSU began in 2012 and is sponsored by the OSU Library, the OSU Chapter of Sigma Xi, the national scientific research society, and the OSU Vice President for Research. Information about the Science Café community series held in 2014 can be found at info.library.okstate.edu/sciencecafeosu, and more about the ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award can be found at ala.org.

Story by Matt Cohlmia