Why not add a "Binocular" Checkout Program
to your "Telescope" Program?
Many public libraries and schools are making "binoculars" available for checkout to their target audience. Binoculars are a natural extension to the library telescope program as they are more portable and often less expensive than telescopes. In addition to providing a great tool to view the night sky, binoculars also are good for looking at birds and nature making them an attractive addition to any checkout program.
There are many variations of binocular checkout programs. One version that you might consider is a binocular program implemented in the Greater St. Louis Area. in the program, the St. Louis Astronomical Society and the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri partnered with the St. Louis Audubon Society to create a "bundle" of the following items:
- One pair of Vortex Crossfire 8x42 Binoculars (https://vortexoptics.com)
- One laminated, folding pocket guide on the "Night Sky" published by Waterford Press (http://www.waterfordpress.com)
- One laminated, folding pocket guide on birds published by Waterford Press (http://www.waterfordpress.com).
- One laminated user manual with instructions on how to use the binoculars. You can download a sample user manual: View Sample
- One waterproof, hard case to neatly hold everything. The "Apache 1800 Weather Proof Protective Case" is just the right size if the protective foam and the binocular softcase are removed.
By purchasing the binoculars and extras at the right price, you should be able to keep the "kit" price to $150.00 or less.
The St. Louis program managers reported they considered the following criteria when selecting their binoculars:
- Versatile, for viewing the night sky (astronomy) and nature (birds, etc.)
- Light weight, for ease of handling by ages 10 or older without a tripod
- Waterproof, with anti-reflective lens coatings to increase light transmission
- Large enough in objective lens size to gather sufficient light for viewing the night sky and provide a bright view in the daytime (42 mm diameter is good)
- Just right in magnification to enable steady viewing by hand (8X is good)
- Able to obtain focus down to less than ten feet for close-up views of nature (e.g., insects and flowers).
- Affordable with an unlimited, unconditional lifetime warranty
While the St. Louis program did not take this approach, some binoculars used in checkout programs are part of a "STEM Bundle" which includes Planispheres, tripods and more. The good news is that you have a lot of choices to make an attractive binocular checkout program tailored to your library's needs.
If you are a interested in learning more about adding a binocular checkout program, please contact us.