The Sciences

Libraries are Quickly Becoming Community Hubs for Citizen Science

Many libraries are helping people get involved in scientific research that addresses local concerns and informs decision-making.

(Credit: Matthew Feeney/Unsplash)

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Citizen Science Salon is a partnership between Discover and SciStarter.Org.


In today’s world, libraries are much more than repositories of books and knowledge. Increasingly, libraries are also community anchors. Through a diverse array of programming, libraries are finding ways to enhance civic engagement and help people become full participants in their local communities, as well as our global society. 

One path many libraries have chosen to help prop up their communities is by becoming hubs for citizen science, where volunteers from all walks of life get involved in research. Citizen scientists collect data, analyze results and help solve some of the biggest problems in science, from monitoring local water and air quality to tracking wildlife, classifying galaxies and so much more. 

Citizen science creates natural opportunities for collaborations between libraries and community organizations to leverage their existing resources and increase engagement in authentic scientific research. It’s also a way to help people address local concerns that can inform decision-making and improve related policies.

Today, many libraries are already involved in citizen science programming. But for countless others, citizen science is still a bit of a mystery. That’s why, with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as well as the Moore Foundation, SciStarter (the organization behind the Citizen Science Salon blog), Arizona State University, and other partners created a host of free resources to help libraries learn about projects and explore opportunities to bring citizen science to the library.

With support from the National Library of Medicine, SciStarter assembled a team with expertise in instructional design, education, libraries, inclusive practices, digital design, micro accreditation, and, of course, citizen science. This team produced a free series of self-guided tutorials, trainings and accompanying modules to help anyone, anywhere discover and engage in authentic science.

The two-part training and supplemental resources are designed to help facilitators, including librarians, library staff, educators and other community conduits, learn about and introduce citizen science to their audiences. 

Part One: Foundations of Citizen Science

Part one of the tutorial can be found on SciStarter.org/training. The Foundations of Citizen Science module is open to anyone — not just librarians. It will help people learn the basics of citizen science, participate in projects and make the most of SciStarter.   

Part Two: Library Training

Once librarians and library staff complete the Foundations of Citizen Science module and earn the badge, they are eligible to proceed to the second hour of the training. The “Libraries as Community Hubs for Citizen Science” self-guided training module and badge can be found on SciStarter.org/library-training

For a limited time, the Medical Library Association will provide professional development credits upon completion of this training. Completing the training takes about one hour.

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