Finding science at the library

Posted: April 20th, 2018 | Featured, Features | No Comments

By Karen Reilly

Libraries, once the bastions of homework and the hottest novels, have grown into so much more in the 21st century, and the Mission Valley Library is no exception.

In the modern age, we still provide research and bestsellers, but we also link our patrons to the world via our computer labs, and to cutting edge technology, in part by forging partnerships with our local biotech and science innovation communities. Case in point: Library NExT, a collaboration with UC San Diego Extension and Sally Ride Science.

Library NExT (Network of Education x Training) is a series of workshops for middle and high school students on topics including robotics, circuits and 3-D modeling, as well as life-science concepts (think slime!). Initially started as a pilot program at six city of San Diego libraries in 2017, it is expanding to 10 locations in 2018 — including Mission Valley — with plans to grow to even more libraries in the future. Programs at the Mission Valley Library so far this year include The Physics of Fidget Spinners, Marine Mammals of California, and Messy Science. Keep an eye on this space — more are coming soon!

Spring into STEAM: Blast Off! is another Library partnership with local science experts, including the Fleet Science Center, Chandra X-Ray Observatory and Microsoft. This STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) challenge for 9- to 12-year-old students features five different workshops during the months of March, April and May, held at all 36 branch libraries across the city, and an interactive poster task. Participants who complete all six missions will learn principles of coding, practice building a Mars colony, discover facts about the cosmos, write code to rescue a stranded spacecraft, and team up to master the physics of landing a glider — and will earn a Citizen Scientist Award Medal!

We haven’t forgotten the “A” in STEAM: Art! Currently on display at the Mission Valley branch, “Art of Change” is an engaging art exhibit spearheaded by the Climate Science Alliance, a partnership between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Comprised of climate change-inspired art created by local artists, children, and community members, this exhibit reflects the passions, concerns, and hopes of our San Diego community with respect to climate change. The family-friendly exhibit not only gives visitors a chance to see thought-provoking art, but it also features a scavenger hunt for kids!

On the health front, you may have heard that Sharp HealthCare is now the Official Health and Wellness Partner of the city of San Diego. As part of this exciting partnership, Sharp will be offering six free wellness classes per council district throughout the year at various Library and Parks and Recreation locations, including the Mission Valley Library. Upcoming classes include a seminar of “Coping with Life’s Transitions,” on June 8, and a look at “Resources for Seniors” in San Diego, on Sept. 14. Check our calendar for more details. Don’t miss out on this free opportunity for a healthy you.

We’re excited to have so much more that we can help people learn!

— Karen Reilly is managing librarian for the Mission Valley Branch Library. Reach her at

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