More than books, now there's a Library of Things

More than books, now there's a Library of Things

Image Credit: Ellen Pill

Just imagine if there was a place that was like a library, only instead of books, patrons could check out things — all sorts of things like toys, games, cake pans and 3-D printers.

It already exists in Wooster at the Wayne County Library. It's called the Library of Things, and it has a lot to offer to anyone who holds a library card.

The idea for libraries to offer more than books is not as new as it may seem.

"Libraries, Wayne County Public Library included, have circulated nontraditional items for quite some time," library assistant director Hayley Tracy-Bursley said. "However, there has been an increase in the size of these collections and the diversity of items that libraries carry."

While it may seem like a new idea, the first Library of Things seems to have been started in Grosse Point, Michigan over 80 years ago with a lending library of tools.

Items from the LOT may be borrowed using a library card by calling the library or reserving them online. Toys, games and other items may be browsed and then checked out in person at the main library.

With a wide array of items available, the Library of Things has items of interest for all ages. The current categories of items include games and toys, technology, home improvement, kitchen things, and outdoor things. A crafty things category is coming soon.

Expansion is planned for many of the categories and new groups of things. The home improvement collection is set to expand. Items related to health and wellness are expected to be added next year as well.

"We hope to grow the Library of Things in 2023 and beyond," Tracy-Bursley said.

There are no additional fees for borrowing things. "Some devices, for example hot spots, come with additional agreements. For some items such as the 3-D printer, we offer an introductory lesson with staff for those that need to learn how to operate the machine," Tracy-Bursley said.

Additionally, items in the LOT may be reserved on hold, either online or by calling the library. Library of Things items may be picked up at any branch, similar to reserved books.

According to Tracy-Bursley, some of the most popular items include cake pans, tabletop games for both adults and children, toys, internet hot spots, 3-D printers, Chromebooks, and lawn games.

The Library of Things was developed in response to a patron survey. "Our community is full of curious and eager learners of all ages," Tracy-Bursley said.

Survey respondents indicated a desire to learn more about maker services, up-to-date technologies and new hobbies.

"Most people know that libraries can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars annually depending on your reading habits," she said.

In much the same way libraries can save patrons money on books, the Library of Things can help save in a variety of ways. In some cases it allows for library-goers to try out a new hobby or interest that might otherwise be too expensive, like borrowing a 3-D printer. For other items it's a chance to borrow rather than purchase something that might only be used once or a handful of times, like a specialty cake pan or an outdoor game. In other cases it's a way to try out something new before purchasing.

Another advantage in using the LOT is it can be a wise choice for the environment. "Through sharing materials overall, waste is reduced," Tracy-Bursley said.

Anyone in need of a free library card is encouraged to apply online at www.wcpl.info/about/policies/card/request, call the library or stop by in person. Proof of a mailing address is required. Minors may obtain cards as long as a parent or legal guardian presents identification and signs for the card.

The library is not currently in need of volunteers; however, financial donations are always welcome. Donations may be made online at www.wcpl.info/about/support/donations or by calling the library. Donations to the library are tax-deductible. To specify a donation be used for the Library of Things, either make a note on the check or in the "additional information" box online.

The Wayne County Public Library Main Branch is located at 220 W. Liberty St., Wooster, and can be called at 330-262-0916. Find the library on social media on Instagram at wayne_co_library, Facebook @waynelibrary and at www.wcpl.info/content/library-things-0.

"The library has so much to offer for all members of our community," Tracy-Bursley said.