What materials do you expect to find when you walk into a library? Books? Of course. DVDs? Magazines? Audiobooks? Yes, absolutely. How about an ice cream maker? Or a metal detector? Telescope? Giant Jenga, a guitar, leather working kit, or a power drill?
Pine River Library recently added these items, and more, to our new Library of Things collection!
Strategic plan interviews held in 2022 showed us that people were seeking activities, hobbies, skill development opportunities and ways to connect with one another. Interviewees were concerned about family, relationships, aging, growth and change. Many people in their circles were struggling financially, physically or emotionally.
We witnessed, what some might describe as the “Spirit of the West.” People who wanted to preserve their own food, fix their own equipment and share resources with their neighbors. Some people wanted to learn skills their forebears used. Many of us have neither the space nor the money to collect equipment we may just need once in a while and are concerned about the wastefulness of purchasing items that will gather dust in a closet.
In response to our findings the Friends of the Pine River Library raised money through their Colorado Gives Day campaign to help support this new collection; many people and businesses in the Pine River Valley donated generously. We brainstormed a wish list based on input from our community and started building the collection focusing on things that are educational, entertaining or financially helpful. It’s still the early days, but we are excited to see lots of “things” flying off the shelves and into the hands of our community members already.
Patrons can use their library card to check out any item for a week at a time. As always, there is no charge for a library card or for lending. (Patrons have to hold a card for at least 90 days before they can borrow special collection items.)
Of course, we are not the only library stretching into unusual areas – Durango Public Library has a huge collection of board games, it also carries birding kits, STEAM kits and book club kits. Ignacio Community Library has a scanner for digitizing slides, a photobooth, microscope kit and puppet kits available for checkout. Southwest La Plata Library District has Busy Boxes full of activities to keep children entertained and learning. We are not the libraries we grew up with!
As community libraries our ideas and resources come from you and belong to you. We strive to use those resources wisely and to keep our materials and services evolving to be interesting, relevant, educational and fun!
Brenda Marshall is director of Pine River Library.