The International
Library Telescope Program

Checkout telescopes from your local library for FREE.  More than 900 participating library locations across the world.

Amazing Views

The library telescope allows patrons to get close up view of the night sky including the Moon and even see the rings of Saturn and the Moons of Jupiter.
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Easy to Use

The library telescope's table top design makes it easy to use for the young and the young at heart.
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Loved by librarians

Library's love the library telescope because of its popularity with patrons.  The telescope's simple design means that most problems can be repaired.
Launch Program

Gateway to the Universe.

Libraries are becoming more than just books!  Many public libraries offer a program that allows
patrons to checkout a telescope or binoculars for FREE!! 

The Concept

The library telescope program places telescopes in local public libraries instead of just schools, allowing greater general access to the scope since they can be put into circulation just as a book.

Where applicable, a local Club member acts as a foster parent to the scope. He or she will periodically clean and adjust the telescope, and act as a local astronomical resource to the library patrons. Additionally, a library member or student from a local school could be engaged as an apprentice astronomer to provide needed care to the scope.


The Telescope

The library telescope lending program uses a variety of telescopes including the Orion StarBlast 4.5-inch Astronomical Telescope. the Zhummell Z114, and the Bresser  5" Dobson telescope. The telescopes are easy to use, robust, and are typically modified to make them more durable and patron friendly.  The telescopes are of manageable size but have a relatively large optical tube. This means that the Moon and deep sky objects will show far more detail than one could see with the common "beginners" telescopes. They provide a large field of view that allows the object to stay in the eyepiece longer. 

Launched in 2008

The library telescope was launched in 2008 by the New Hampshire Astronomical Society.
Public libraries and science organizations from around the globe are adopting the program.
Library Outlets

Get Ready for Solar Eclipses

Public libraries in North America will have a rare treat on Saturday, October 14, 2023, and Monday, April 8, 2024, as they experience solar eclipses. Due to concerns about eye safety, it is not recommended that libraries modify their telescopes or binoculars for public viewing of these eclipses. However, there are various activities available to libraries to make the solar eclipse a memorable experience for their patrons and an opportunity to obtain FREE solar glasses and other resources.  

Visit StarNet for FREE resources

Visit StarNET to learn more about getting FREE Eclipses for your library and help on hosting eclipse related programs


View a recording of a our webinar on how how libraries can have programming related to the 2023 and 2024 solar eclipses.

Astronomical League

The Astronomical League is a great supporter of the Library Telescope Program.
The Astronomical League offers an opportunity for Astronomy Clubs to get a FREE library telescope for their local library.

FREE telescope giveway to Astronomy Clubs

The Astronomical League is giving away up to eleven Library Telescopes!

Through the vision of the Horkheimer Charitable Fund, the Astronomical League again offers a free Library Telescope to a lucky Astronomical League club in each of the ten AL regions and to one Member-at-Large.  

The Library Telescope consists of an Orion 4.5 inch StarBlast Dobsonian (or equivalent) and a Celestron 8-24 mm zoom eyepiece (or equivalent), and a name plate commemorating the late Jack Horkheimer. The value of this opportunity is approximately $300; the potential of the program is enormous.

The Library Telescope Program was initiated by the New Hampshire Astronomical Society in 2009. Clubs donate an easy-to-use, portable telescope with quality optics and a sturdy mount to their local library. Patrons can then check it out as they do books. Full details of this wonderful program can be found at

The winning entries for each Astronomical League region and for the MALs will be drawn and announced at ALCon 2023 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The telescope, eyepiece, and accompanying commemorative plate will be shipped to the winners in the weeks following ALCon.

Entry deadline: The entry forms must be received by the Astronomical League national office by June 30, 2023.

Thank you to the Horkheimer Charitable Fund and Orion Telescopes for making this wonderful program possible!

Astronomical League Testimonial

February 9, 2023

I would like to publicly acknowledge the outstanding success of the Library Telescope Loaner Telescope Programs that have swept the country in the last few years.

What started out as a small project in a New England state has greatly expanded to various locations across the country.  

Whether it was a massive project in a larger metropolitan area like St. Louis, or a smaller project in Omaha, the common goal of the programs remains the same:  to allow library patrons to check out telescopes that are already setup for convenient use, without the expense and extra burden of buying a telescope and setting it up.

The Astronomical League has reinforced these many efforts by annually awarding a library telescope to one of our member societies in each of our regions, plus one Member-at-Large. This program is handled by an application process where the club identifies a library that desires the service. The telescope is then shipped to the library with the full support of the local astronomy society that works closely with the designated library in implementing the program.  

I strongly recommend these important programs that allow children as well as adults the opportunity to view the night sky, many of whom would never have this opportunity without these Loaner Telescope Programs.

Carroll Iorg, President
Astronomical League


View YouTube Recordings of Past Webinars

Our Goal

To foster scientific literacy, stimulate an interest in astronomy, and provide people who have never looked through a telescope the chance to experience the excitement that comes from discovery