Public libraries have immense potential to become powerful hubs for citizen science initiatives and programmes. A 2022 paper ‘Public libraries embrace citizen science: Strengths and challenges’ based on research conducted with Barcelona’s public library network found that public libraries can ‘offer leadership in the promotion of citizen science and contribute to the mission of public libraries to act as local community hubs’.

European Citizen Science project

Within the European Citizen Science (ECS)’s objective to create a globally connected, inclusive and strong citizen science community for societal change in Europe, the project reached out to Public Libraries 2030 (PL2030) to get public libraries involved. The objective of the participation of public libraries in ECS is to engage and attract structurally marginalised groups, but also to fill the gap in the larger European citizen science network. In order to do this, PL2030 reached out to its vast network of European public libraries and gathered 10 libraries from Aarhus (Denmark), Sibiu (Romania), Lisbon (Portugal), Valmiera (Latvia), Veria (Greece), Helsinki (Finland), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Kranj (Slovenia), Wiener Neudstadt (Austria), and Kudoza-Zdroj (Poland).

The outcome of the collaboration with the public libraries will be twofold: 1) the development of a dedicated one-day training module on how public libraries can adopt and/or integrate citizen science in their activities, and 2) the 10 public libraries will organise community events on different citizen science topics. The libraries will be also matched with a national point of contact, who will support them throughout the process.

Co-developing the training module with libraries

Together with Stickydot and Learning Planet Institute, two focus groups were organised with the 10 public libraries to get a better sense of what is needed to build a comprehensive training module for library staff on citizen science. Additionally, the development of this one day module is done in collaboration with the online citizen science hub and community, SciStarter. This collaboration is particularly valuable as SciStarter has already built a strong network of libraries across America. To get started on the project, our librarians followed SciStarters’ ‘Foundations of Citizen Science’ and ‘The Library as a community hub for citizen science’ courses!

The participation of public libraries in citizen science is vital to make the ECS project inclusive, as they are able to reach certain structurally marginalised or excluded communities and groups, and have been recognised as being powerful community-building spaces. Stay tuned to see what our libraries get up to!