Buchanan District Library to offer ‘Library of Things’

BUCHANAN — Libraries share books and media with the community, giving shared access to information, history and literary works.

“I think the sharing economy really helps us all have more without being wasteful,” said Meg Paulette, director of the Buchanan District Library. “We can all be a part of it.”

The Buchanan District Library will soon be offering more than books and media for community members to check out. The director hopes the library will be able to officially debut its “Library of Things” in August to patrons.

Right now, the collection includes a birding kit, which contains bird identification guides and binoculars, ukuleles and a weed whacker. Paulette is seeking community input on more items  patrons would like to see made available to check out.

“It’s a really natural extension of what libraries are already doing, to expand what we offer to our patrons,” she said.

On the Buchanan District Library’s website, under the “About Us” tab, community members can submit suggestions of what they would like to see and check out from a local “Library of Things.”

“I was talking to somebody yesterday who asked if we were taking donations,” Paulette said. “Anybody who has a special interest and they think maybe their community would like to learn more about this, like the birding kit, we are inviting people to share what they’re passionate about with the rest of the people in town.”

As the suggestions come into the website, Paulette said the library staff would see what it would be able to purchase first.

“We’ll go through those and try to get some of the most popular items, and those that might have the widest use first,” Paulette said.

Paulette said the library was working out a process to sanitize and tune up items in between patron use.

“We have agreement form that we have worked out,” she said. “We have talked to other libraries about how they do it. When [items] come back, [they] will need to be reset. We’ll have to test and make sure they still work.”

Paulette said one of the things she was most interested in the library having was an ice cream maker.

“Anything like that you might not want to buy and have in your house forever, but it would be fun to check out for the weekend,” Paulette said. “We’re going to really explore anything, outdoor equipment, too. If you don’t have a tent but want to go camping, you can come and rent one for the week.”

Just minutes down the road in Niles, the Niles District Library has offered a “Library of Things” for the past few years.

The staff in Niles has limited the offerings in their “Library of Things” during COVID-19 precautions to items that can be easily disinfected.

“We hope to be begin circulating these items again in a future phase of our reopening,” said Niles District Library Director Stevyn Compoe.

The Information and Reader’s Service Manager for the Niles District Library, Sarah Skinner, said the most popular items in its “Library of Things” are games.

“I would guess that we have between 50 and 75 games, old and new, to choose from,” Skinner said. “Other popular items include kitchen gadgets, namely the ice cream maker, air fryer and Instant Pot.

The “Library of Things” offered at the Niles District Library has a two-fold approach to its selection.

“To offer items so patrons can ‘try before they buy’ for big-ticket items, like the Instant Pot, and to offer patrons use of items that they may only need once or twice a year, and do not want to store the remainder of the time, like folding tables and benches,” Skinner said.

Paulette hopes to expand the Buchanan District Library’s “Library of Things” with a similar plan. With COVID-19 still limiting capacity at the library and newer processes for returned items still in effect, the collection will grow as patrons submit requests and are able to access the building.

“It’ll be kind of a gradual roll out as things become available over time,” Paulette said.

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