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Science Literacy Week: Why Your Library Should Participate

Science Literacy Week is an upcoming nationwide celebration of science scheduled for September 19th-25th.  The week is above all a chance for great science outreach organizations (libraries, museums, science centres and more) to join together and showcase their work in bringing science to the public in a big way.  In its first year (2014), the week had 5 events in Toronto, in its second it had 300 events in 40 cities by 110+ participants.

Libraries form the heart of the event – and it all starts with prominently displayed selections of popular, accessible science books.  Rather than hiding in the back of libraries, the week gives these engaging, exciting reads a chance to see the light of day.  Over 250 individual branch libraries participated last year coast to coast with such displays.


Furthermore, the week provides not only a chance for libraries to create excellent science programs of their own, but also partner as venues for local science groups.  Last year there was a bit of everything involved – nature hikes, astronomy nights, science demos, public lectures – all hosted by libraries.

For 2016, there are already 125 partners and counting, as well as more coordination within cities and more prominent groups helping to spread the word.  This has the potential to become the pre-eminent event in Canada for highlighting just how spectacular our science outreach can be.

Your library can get involved by planning a Science Literacy Week program, event or display and submitting it to Science Literacy:

Want to know what collections to highlight? The following are some books to consider from a variety of categories. For more ideas, visit our website.


  • 1491 by Charles C. Mann
  • 1493 by Charles C. Mann
  • Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • Collapse by Jared Diamond
  • Catching Fire by Richard Wrangham


  • Cosmos by Carl Sagan
  • Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan
  • Space Chronicles by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
  • A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking


  • The Double Helix by James D. Watson
  • The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
  • Life Ascending by Nick Lane
  • The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Spillover by David Quammen


  • The Elements by Theodore Gray
  • Molecules by Theodore Gray
  • Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks
  • The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

Science and Society/Science Adventures

  • An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
  • Adventures in the Anthropocene by Gaia Vince
  • The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
  • And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts
  • What If? by Randall Munroe

Psychology/Brain Science

  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
  • The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Do No Harm by Henry Marsh


  • The Wavewatcher’s Companion by Gavin Pretor-Pinney
  • Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik
  • The Cloudspotter’s Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Jesse Hildebrand is the founder of Science Literacy Week. He can be reached at jessehhildebrand [at]

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