5 types of items you might not know that your library will lend you
Let’s talk about unconventional library collections, will you? Earlier this summer, I was in a socially distant, garden-based family shindig. I hadn’t been home to Montreal to see my family since the days before, so I was happy as a clam-shaped creature. And then all of a sudden my brother mentioned he didn’t have a library card and the sky darkened as the clouds gathered on the horizon.
âBut I’m a library professional,â I stammered, betrayed and disappointed. âEven if you don’t want to borrow books,â I continued, and began to list all the glorious gifts that libraries give to the people. My family laughed at my ramblings, but readers, it pains me that my own family members don’t know all that libraries have to offer.
I have often heard people praise Google for saying that they don’t need library accounts because the Internet allows them to know and access everything. And while information is a large part of what libraries transmit, it is certainly not all. When people say the internet has made libraries obsolete, this is another example of libraries and librarians being misunderstood by the public. Now I won’t start to detail all services provided by libraries (super smart reference geniuses! Print / scan / fax! Ebooks!) as many of them are already well known. Instead, I will discuss libraries within libraries. These are special collections held by some libraries, where patrons can borrow items such as instruments, radon detectors, hand tools and plant seeds.
Musical instrument library
Instruments can be very expensive, and sometimes you don’t want to buy one until you know you really love playing them. This is where musical instrument libraries come in, as you can borrow a banjo or kalimba and then learn about the instrument using the how-to resources compiled by library staff. Borrowing instead of buying saves money and doesn’t clutter the house with an instrument that can only be played a handful of times. The only downside is that some instruments will have long waiting lists, but what’s the rush? It is always worth it.
Tool library / Object library
Sometimes referred to as a tool library or an object library, this is one of my favorite options for a special collection. It may feature useful devices such as Kill-a-Watt power meters and radon detectors, tech items such as GoPro’s, and / or hand and garden tools. These libraries help create less waste because people don’t need to buy something for short-term use, and they are a good way for people to live more affordably. I rarely do tool-related tasks, so I don’t like buying these items to use once or twice. Using an object library, I can easily access these items and then render them immediately. Perfect.
Digital streaming movie library
I think at this point most people know that libraries allow users to download e-books and e-audiobooks. Many also know that libraries give patrons access to resources like Ancestry.com, statistical reports, consumer reports, and LinkedIn Learning (and, if not, well, there is a another reason to sign up for a library card!) Did you know that public libraries also provide you with streaming movies and TV shows? Also, I appreciate that Kanopy (the service my library system uses) has a lot more indie movies from the 90s than any streaming service I pay for.
People can often underestimate how wonderful and important fanzines can be, and a fanzine library gives users the chance to experience their goodness in one fell swoop. After all, zines are DIY editions that amplify underground voices. Plus, zine creators control the packaging of their words and art. I’ve often enjoyed reading people’s zines, but my problem is that I don’t necessarily have a place to live for them. Space in my apartment is limited, so I have to make tough choices about what’s left and what’s going. Having a library of zines in the library means I can a) read them there; after all, they are often small or b) temporarily bring them home and don’t feel stressed by the clutter.
Seed libraries hold a special place in my heart – despite the fact that I do not garden in any way, shape or form; my partner was the volunteer seed library coordinator at a library where I worked and my boss put us in touch to collaborate. Community in action! But from my topic, the idea of ââa seed library is that gardeners or thriving gardeners can ‘borrow’ seeds, and then, at the end of the growing season, these friendly neighborhood gardeners can save the seeds of their new plants and donate some of the seeds to the library. Again, win-win!
Hope you learned something new about these unconventional library collections. Libraries want to attract a wide range of potential customers, even those who don’t need or want to borrow books. One way to achieve this goal is to provide a variety of collections. On top of that, mini-libraries within libraries are a great way for the community to meet and interact while receiving free resources. While not all libraries offer these exact options, you may want to visit your local book palace to explore the special library collections they advertise.