Tuesday, August 22, 2017

TOP STORY >> Eclipse party at library

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Public Library solar-eclipse watch party had nearly 100 people gazing at the moon blocking the sun Monday.

The garden was filled with lawn chairs, canopies and pizza. Protected eyes peered up to the heavens toward the peak of the eclipse. The air felt cooler as sunlight softened for only a few minutes.

Cabot branch manager Kathleen Ashmore said the library gave out free 400 viewing glasses and kept 100 for the viewing party. The Lonoke County Library System received two grants from STAR Net (Science-Technology Activities and Resources Library Education Network) to distribute solar eclipse viewing glasses throughout the system. Grant writers were Carlislebranch manager Rachel Felt and Carlisle and Lonoke children’s librarian Cassie Abbott.

“People were excited they had somewhere to go. For weeks they were asking for glasses. It was a positive experience to see the joy of the eclipse with others,” Ashmore said.

Glasses were generously shared with strangers giving everyone a chance to see the eclipse as a community.

Tech Sgt. Kristen McGuire of Cabot checked her kids out of school during her lunch break to view the eclipse. The Cabot School District allowed parents to share the experience with their children. Half day absences were excused and full day if a family traveled out of state, but they had to notify the school before.

“I was never afforded the opportunity when I was younger. They have been talking about it at school,” she said. “It is very cool to see it in real life,” Gabriel McGuire, 12, said.

“It was a good outreach for the non-library users. It was the first time many visited the new library. A lot of people realized what we have to offer is often a pleasant surprise,” Ashmore said.