BELEN — The Belen Public Library has been selected through a nationally competitive application process to be part of NASA@ My Library, an education initiative created to increase and enhance STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning opportunities for library patrons throughout the nation, including geographic areas and populations currently underrepresented in STEAM education.

“Belen Public Library is one of just 60 libraries nationwide to be part of this initiative, and we’re thrilled to have been selected,” said Kathleen Pickering, the library’s director. “We look forward to introducing STEAM concepts to our younger patrons and to exploring the universe together with people of all ages during our public programs in 2021 and 2022.”

As a NASA@ My Library partner, the Belen Public Library will hold public programs that explore National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) science and technology, specifically around NASA’s newest next-generation telescope launch (fall 2021), the first telescope images (spring 2022), and as part of the Collaborative Summer Library Program (summer 2022).

More information, including a program schedule, will be available in the coming months at belen-nm.gov/belen-public-library.

About 150 libraries applied to be part of the program. The Belen Public Library was only one of three in New Mexico to be selected. As part of this initiative, the library will receive training and resources to implement NASA events and programming, access to a university Subject Matter Expert to support patron engagement, and $1,600 for programming expenses.

The Facebook Data Center in Los Lunas pledged an additional $10,000 to enhance and expand STEAM programming at the Belen Public Library in conjunction with NASA@ My Library.

The Belen Public Library is collaborating with H2 Academic Solutions and Belen Consolidated Schools to reach the broadest audience possible with these high quality NASA programs.

“We are so incredibly grateful for this opportunity for our community,” said Alyissa Aragon, Belen’s children’s librarian and the NASA@ My Library program director. “Thanks to NASA@ My Library, and Facebook, we can deliver new and exciting STEAM programs that the kids in our community would not typically have access to. I believe that this new programming will not only help develop an interest in STEAM but also encourage academic success.  Perhaps the BHS graduating class of 2030 will produce a handful of astronauts.

“These resources and partnerships, along with support by the NASA@ My Library team, will enable the Belen Public Library to conduct excellent NASA STEAM programming and activities. NASA@ My Library will create compelling learning experiences for the library’s community and share the story, science and adventure of NASA’s scientific explorations of planet Earth, our solar system and the universe beyond.”

NASA@ My Library is offered by the National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) at the Space Science Institute (SSI) in partnership with the ALA Public Programs Office, Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) and Education Development Center (EDC). This material is based upon work supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under cooperative agreement No. NNX16AE30A.

This work was also assisted and supported by the Space Science Institute, which was the recipient of the cooperative agreement. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NASA or the Space Science Institute.

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.