County library hosts out of this world day

Clara Kiker listens as Astronaut Jack “2fish” Fischer answers her question from aboard the International Space Station. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)

by Kyle Soto

For many young and imaginative children around the world, outer space is something that makes their eyes glisten with curiosity and leaves them with questions about the space beyond and what it offers to those lucky enough to travel beyond the boundaries. Monday afternoon, outer space got a little bit closer.

The Fayette County Public Library was selected to host a NASA Link Live, making it the first library in the state of Georgia and the third in the U.S. to have the honor of hosting such an event. The event gave 24 children the opportunity to ask Astronaut Jack “2fish” Fischer, who is currently stationed in the International Space Station, questions via Skype.

“We are the best library in the universe,” said Library Director Chris Snell.

The application process began early this year in hopes of hosting this relatively new event when Gina Martin found the opportunity on the American Library Association’s website. They were initially denied, but, in March, received an email from NASA explaining the Live Link could potentially happen. On May 22, the library received a second email from NASA announcing they had been chosen for the event. With the date of the event so close, staff scrambled to put the Live Link together.

With such little time to prepare, the library put its resources into informing the public of this event through newspapers, social media outlets, and flyers. As a result of the library’s rushed yet effective efforts, over 600 people appeared for the rare NASA event.

The IT department was beyond crucial in the setup for this event. Engineers began communications with NASA, and the result was a brilliant showing of a live conversation with Fischer.

“We already had someone from Florida call in to tell us how amazing it was,” Snell said. “It was just awesome.”

The atmosphere was one of anticipation and curiosity. People of all ages, primarily children, lined up and filled the room and into an overflow area to hear Astronaut Fischer answer questions asked by young children. The Q&A was conducted via Skype while being broadcasted on NASA’s official website. Astronaut Fischer gave wholehearted answers and was genuinely happy to be a component of the event, putting his young interviewers at ease. His cheerful attitude led to an enjoyable atmosphere filled with laughter.

The children asked questions that sparked interest throughout the room, bringing up topics and ideas which otherwise would have been left untouched. One child asked “What do you eat? Is there a certain diet?” Astronaut Fischer explained that while there is no set diet, the food is “pretty darn good, and, if it’s not, you can just squirt some hot sauce on it.”

He couldn’t have been a better partner.

“I am so glad Astronaut Jack Fischer was the one [who participated in the event],” Snell said. “He was very joyful, made jokes, and was very kind.”

The library offered much more than just the NASA Live Link, including a unique experience where visitors entered a dome shaped capsule and viewed a video of a spaceship recorded with a fisheye camera lens, giving visitors a 360-degree view of life on a spaceship.

Following the Live Link, visitors ventured outside to drawing with chalk on the sidewalks, have a free lunch and treat, and get pictures taken by NASA cameras.
The opportunity created by NASA and the Fayette County Library was a landmark event to remember and provided a great experience for those that visited the event.

“This so magnificent for our community,” Snell said. “Everybody looks to the Fayette County Library for excellence, and I really do believe we are the best in the universe.”

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