Edgartown Public Library children’s librarian Deborah MacInnis counts herself as an astronomy fan. On her desk is a color photograph of Comet Hale Bopp which she shot herself years ago. And she has fond memories of getting the late Edgartown resident Maxamina Mello up before dawn to see Halley’s Comet in 1986, knowing that the 85-year-old woman had seen it as a youngster 70 years before.

But it took much more than enthusiasm for Mrs. MacInnis to become the NASA-certified guardian of some bona fide moon rocks.

She and other Island librarians needed extensive training as well as use of a vault at the state police barracks to do it, but they have arranged for Islanders to get a close-up look at moon rocks — bringing the 40th anniversary of man’s landing on the moon home to this rock.

Astronauts brought back 840 pounds of rock in the six Apollo missions to the moon that ended in 1972.

What is coming to the Vineyard is this: samples of three rocks (basalt, breccia and anorthosite) and three samples of soil (mare soil, highlander soil and orange soil).

Each sample is smaller than a sugar cube, yet to house them even briefly, Vineyard librarians were required to attend a three-hour NASA course in Lakeville; three then attended a talk in May and another two had a further session in June.

The visiting moon material is housed in a six-inch diameter clear lucite disk. At night, it has to go into lock-down at the state police barracks in Oak Bluffs.

Sgt. Neal Maciel, station commander, said in the 35 years he has been in law enforcement he had never provided protection to moon rocks. The extraordinary security is nothing he can’t handle, of course. “We got a request from the libraries; we are trying to help them out,” Sergeant Maciel said.

“Even though these samples are small, they are a national treasure,” said Jennette Hilty, of the Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland. She is charged with making sure the moon rocks get into the schools and libraries in the New England and mid-Atlantic regions.

“One of the first things Neil Armstrong did when he stood on the moon was collect soil samples,” Miss Hilty said.

The moon is 238,000 miles away. The cost of the Project Apollo mission to the moon is reported to have cost more than $20 billion. Hence the value of the rock, and the government protocol and security for anyone seeking to borrow it. “These are samples we can’t go back and get,” Miss Hilty said.

This is a big year for space enthusiasts: the International Year of Astronomy, the 50th anniversary of NASA and the 40th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon.

In just the past year, Miss Hilty said she has acted on over 100 loans so the rocks have been seen by 30,000 people.

Most of the Island’s libraries will exhibit the moon rocks in a series of programs that begins on Tuesday, July 28 at the Edgartown library. The statewide theme for children’s library summer reading programs is Starship Adventure.

On many clear evenings the Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor can be seen high in the sky, but Mrs. MacInnis, who is also assistant director, said she is pretty excited about pieces of moon coming into the children’s library, the basement. “I think it is wonderful,” she said.

Edgartown library will show the moon rocks on Tuesday, July 28 at a 3:30 p.m. program for young readers. Mrs. MacInnis said she plans on inspiring the youngsters to imagine what they would put in their backpack if they were ever to go to the moon.

Wednesday, July 29 at 7 p.m. at the Edgartown Public Library, former NASA employee Bob Gurnitz, of Chappaquiddick, will speak.

Saturday, August 1, there is a 10 a.m. program for young children at the West Tisbury Free Public Library with a microscope available so visitors can get a close-up look at the moon rocks, plus a planetary scavanger hunt for the young. At the end of the hunt, moon pies from Alley’s General Store will be available. There will also be a crafts program tied to the visiting rocks.

On the same day, at 3 p.m. is a program for older children at the Edgartown library.

Wednesday, August 5, at 10:30 a.m. a moon-themed children’s story and song program is on at Chilmark Public Library.

Thursday, August 6, sees two programs at the Vineyard Haven Public Library: at 2 p.m., a program for adults and at 3 p.m. a program for children by Kathy Forester, a science teacher who specializes in space science, who will wear a space suit and talk about what it is like to be in space.

Mrs. MacInnis said she has fond memories of July 20, 1969, when man first set foot on the moon. “I remember the landing on the moon. I was working as a camp counselor in Racine, Wisconsin. And we watched it all together on television. I remember Walter Cronkite telling us about it.”