Science Literacy Week, September 22-29

September 5, 2014 | Miriam

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Wonder and Skepticism

Toronto Public Library is pleased to collaborate with York University and University of Toronto libraries, and the Mississauga Public Library to promote science literacy through displays and special science-related programming during the last week of September.

The late Carl Sagan, a renowned scientist, recounts in a famous 1995 essay written for The Skeptical Inquirer how as a child he asked his mother about the stars. Her answer was, “Look, we’ve just got you a library card. Take it, get on the streetcar, go to the New Utrecht branch of the New York Public Library, get out a book and find the answer.”

In this same essay, Sagan goes on:

"Science involves a seemingly self-contradictory mix of attitudes: On the one hand, it requires an almost complete openness to all ideas, no matter how bizarre and weird they sound, a propensity to wonder....

"But at the same time, science requires the most vigorous and uncompromising skepticism, because the vast majority of ideas are simply wrong, and the only way you can distinguish the right from the wrong, the wheat from the chaff, is by critical experiment and analysis.

"Too much openness and you accept every notion, idea, and hypothesis—which is tantamount to knowing nothing. Too much skepticism—especially rejection of new ideas before they are adequately tested—and you’re not only unpleasantly grumpy, but also closed to the advance of science."

Yorkville ScienceLit displayIn this spirit, library staff will be creating displays in 34 branches (listed below). The Yorkville branch has jumped the gun with their display of some great-looking books (left).

You can find the many science programs planned for fall by clicking on Science & Technology or by looking under Programs, Classes & Exhibits. Some of the most exciting programs will take place during Science Literacy Week itself (click here for details). Look for programs on astronomy, statistics (yes, it is interesting), the science of archaeology, oceans, environmental science, the Arctic, robotics, geology, how your brain works and much, much more. There are also tons of programs for kids.

Check the What's On blog soon to find lists of favourite science titles by some of our speakers and by library staff, too.


 Science Literacy Branches

Albert Campbell Barbara Frum Beaches Bendale Bloor/Gladstone Burrows Hall
City Hall Danforth/Coxwell Deer Park Eatonville Evelyn Gregory Fairview
Gerrard/Ashdale Goldhawk Park High Park Jones Leaside Lillian H. Smith
Main Street Malvern North York Central Oakwood Village Pape/Danforth Richview
Riverdale S. Walter Stewart Spadina Road St. Lawrence Thorncliffe Toronto Reference Library
York Woods Yorkville