A couple of weeks ago I ran across a comment on social media in reference to the library, stating: “aren’t there books to dust?” This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard something along these lines. When I tell people I’m a librarian, the response tends to be one of two things, both suggesting that the library is nothing more than a book warehouse and that all librarians do is read all day (we wish…). I find it both amusing and disappointing; the disappointment is that we as libraries are clearly bad at showing people what we offer. On the flip side of this though, is the overwhelmingly positive feeling we get to experience each time someone comes in for the first time, or reenters a library after years away. I can’t count the number of times people have expressed their surprise and excitement over ‘discovering’ the library has an incredible array of collections, programs, and services.
Libraries are increasingly becoming a place for more than just books. There’s a nation-wide trend of ‘non-traditional’ circulating items, frequently called “Library of Things.” The ‘things’ vary from location to location, but can include things like tool kits for home repair projects, cooking utensils, hot spots, even bicycles at some libraries! Generally, items are the types of things you’d use short-term anyway—you need one specific tool for a home project with an end date—or sometimes they offer patrons an opportunity to try something out before they spend a lot of money on it (like the Instant Pot!). They may also be hobby-related. (I’m embarrassed to admit how many different craft tools I’ve purchased over the years when I try out a new hobby—if only I had known the library could lend me those size 13 knitting needles I only used once!)
Our library system here in the counties of Manitowoc and Calumet has several libraries who have built a library of things.
Chilton Public Library has an Instant pot, hot spot, sewing machine, serger, embroidery machine, canning equipment: countertop, food dehydrator, cake pans, outdoor yard games, board and video games, and maker kits. These items are holdable, and you can check them out for between four days and seven days (most are renewable one time as well). Which means you can even place them on hold at your local library! (Must be returned to Chilton Public Library Service Desk).
Brillion Public Library has Playaway Launch Pads which are pre-loaded with educational games for early childhood learning. These must be checked out in person at the Brillion Public Library.
Manitowoc Public Library has items like hot spots, bike locks, and museum passes which must be checked out in person, and a collection of cake pans which can be placed on hold and picked up at your local library!
And our own New Holstein Public Library has several items like cake pans, pasta-makers, a podcast/oral history recording kit, and chocolate or jello molds. Most of these items can be checked out for seven to fourteen days, and can be placed on hold.
If you haven’t been to your library in a while, I really encourage you to walk in and see what’s new!