Library of Things

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Library of Things describes non-traditional collections that are being loaned by libraries, and can include kitchen appliances, tools, gardening equipment and seeds,[1] electronics,[2][3] toys and games, art,[4] science kits, craft supplies, musical instruments, recreational equipment, and more.[5] These new types of collections vary widely, but go far beyond the books, journals, and media that have been the primary focus of library collections in the past.[6]

The Library of Things movement is a growing trend in public, academic, and special libraries in the United States.[7] There are also free-standing organizations outside of libraries that offer borrowing services, such as tool libraries, toy libraries, or independent non-profits. These borrowing centers and library collections are all a part of the sharing economy.[8] Many of these libraries are offering tools and equipment that are useful to have access to, such as specialized cookware or niche technology items, but are often cumbersome to own and store.[9] Library of Things collections are often supported by educational programming and public events.[10]

Types of Collections[edit]

Although it is not unusual for libraries to lend materials beyond books (music, movies, e-readers, etc.)[5] some have drastically expanded their 'things' collections in recent years. Library of Things collections have expanded to include:

Art & Craft[edit]

Art rentals are being made available for library patrons for borrowing prints, posters, paintings, and other visual art.[11][12] Additionally, many Library of Things are adding arts and crafts equipment and supplies for use in the library or for check out. Crafting tools may include sewing machines, knitting kits, die-cutters, papercraft tools, jewelry repair and embroidery kits, scrapbooking supplies, and button makers.[13][14][15]

Electronics & Technology[edit]

Libraries have been lending electronics like e-readers, tablets, and laptops for quite some time already, but are now expanding the range of electronics that they lend through the Library of Things. Electronics offerings have expanded to include mobile hot spots, projectors, scanners, GoPros, graphics tablets, digital and film cameras, video games, converters (vinyl, cassette, and VHS to digital files), green screens, and video cameras.[16][17]

Musical Instruments[edit]

Instrument collections have been brought in to libraries, often accompanied by sheet music, tuners, amps, and educational resources.[18][19][20] The Free Library of Philadelphia launched its Musical Instrument Collection (MIC) in 2016, and lending includes an electric guitar, mandolin, electric bass, ukulele, acoustic-electric guitar, and a banjo.[21] Lopez Island Library introduced a musical instrument "petting zoo", which includes instruments like acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, cello, clarinet, flugelhorn, French horn, electric keyboard, recorder, ukulele, viola, and violin.[22]

Kitchen Gear[edit]

Specialized kitchen equipment, including food dehydrators, popcorn machines, ice cream makers, specialized blenders, and cake pans[23][24][25][26] are available to borrow for home use. Cake pans and novelty bakeware have been particularly popular additions to libraries, with many stand-alone collections being created.[27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]

Gardening & Seed Libraries[edit]

Seed libraries have cropped up as a part of public library collections.[35][36] Many have a policy for users who 'check out' seeds for a growing season; they agree to plant the checked-out seeds and then save seeds from the yield to return to the collection for the following year.[37][38][39] Some seed libraries have become a point of contention with state governments' agriculture departments.[40][41][42] Agricultural equipment, landscaping tools, and gardening supplies are also included in 'things' collections, and may include rakes, hedge trimmers, pruners, hand tools, leaf blowers, and lawn mowers.[43][44][45] Some libraries are even creating community gardens[46] where library users can check out a garden plot for a growing season.[47][48]

Home Tools[edit]

Home monitoring tools are increasingly available in concert with other tools in Library of Things collections. Thermal cameras and leak detectors, air quality meters, infrared thermometers, energy meters, and other monitoring devices are being made available for check out.[49][50][51]


Some libraries are bringing in equipment to help users enjoy outdoor recreation, sometimes in partnership with local Parks and Recreation departments. Among a wide range of recreation equipment offerings are fishing rods,[52][53] frisbees and whiffle balls, bird watching kits, and croquet,[54] badminton, bocce, or pickleball sets.[55]

Similarly, libraries are checking out party supplies for social recreation, including items like bubble, cotton candy, and karaoke machines, chocolate fountains, or boomboxes.[56]

Science & Maker[edit]

The Maker movement[57] has had an influence on the collections available at Libraries of Things, and as a result there are littleBits, Arduino, Makey Makey, Raspberry Pi, robotics kits, coding toys, 3D printers, and vinyl and laser cutters may be available for check out at many libraries.[58][5][59] Similarly, science tools like digital microscopes, telescopes, light meters, and themed science kits are being made available to borrow.[60][61]


Tool libraries have gained popularity as free-standing borrowing centers in many cities, and libraries[62][63][64] are also bringing in tool collections for borrowing. Hand and power tools for home improvement, construction, and fine woodworking are popular additions to libraries, and often are accompanied by programming and educational opportunities.[65]


Toy lending centers have a longer history, stretching back to the Great Depression.[66] Recently, though, libraries have come to embrace the concept of toy libraries, and have introduced lending collections of puppets, board games, American Girl Dolls,[67] puzzles, blocks, and a wide variety of other toys into their collections.[66][68]


The Library of Things movement is expanding in include an ever-widening array of items. Other useful 'things' collections include tiebraries,[69] taxidermied animals,[70][71] museum passes,[72][73] or Santa suits.[74] One library even offers a collection of books for those intersted in role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. Sourcebooks and dice sets are available to borrow from the Mark Mazurek Roll Playing Game Collections at Palm Harbor Public Library in Palm Harbor, Florida. [75]

Library of Things[edit]

In Libraries[edit]



  1. ^ Landgraf, Greg (2015-01-05). "Not Your Garden-Variety Library". American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  2. ^ "Start Your Own Mobile Device-Lending Program | TechSoup for Libraries". Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  3. ^ Rosales, Romeo. "Check Out a Library Hotspot » Public Libraries Online". Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  4. ^ Collie, Victoria. "Borrowing Art @ The Library » Public Libraries Online". Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  5. ^ a b c Brown, Patricia Leigh (2015-09-14). "These Public Libraries Are for Snowshoes and Ukuleles". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-01.
  6. ^ Mead, Brian; Dankowski, Terra (2017-06-01). "The Library of Things". American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  7. ^ Robison, Mark; Shedd, Lindley (2017). Audio Recorders to Zucchini Seeds. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 978-1-4408-5019-6.
  8. ^ Figueroa, Miguel (2014-10-06). "Sharing Economy". American Libraries. Retrieved 2017-08-01.
  9. ^ Williams, Casey (2016-04-29). "How Libraries -- Yes, Libraries -- Are Helping People Ditch Stuff They Don't Need". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-07-25.
  10. ^ Cassidy, Charles (November 15, 2012). "Can I Check This Out? : Circulating Collections Beyond Books, CDs, and DVDs » Public Libraries Online". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  11. ^ "Art Prints | Ann Arbor District Library". Ann Arbor District Library. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  12. ^ Collie, Victoria (November 5, 2013). "Borrowing Art @ The Library » Public Libraries Online". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  13. ^ Garrison, Ellen (2015-02-01). "Borrow a sewing machine? Sacramento Public Library to start loaning more than books". sacbee. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  14. ^ Zinn, Jill (2015-06-01). "Check out arts & crafts with kits from the library! | Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library". Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  15. ^ Beuker, Jessica (2016-01-08). "A new "library of things" lets you test your hidden genius by borrowing nearly anything". The Plaid Zebra. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  16. ^ "Camera Kits". Spokane Public Library. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  17. ^ Rosales, Jr., Romeo (February 24, 2016). "Check Out a Library Hotspot » Public Libraries Online". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  18. ^ "Borrow a Musical Instrument : Toronto Public Library". Toronto Public Library. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  19. ^ "Borrow a musical instrument | Forbes Library". Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  20. ^ "About Music Tools | Ann Arbor District Library". Ann Arbor District Library. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  21. ^ Genovesi, Perry (September 21, 2016). "Blog: Opening Notes of Instrument Lending at the Free Library". Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved 2017-08-01.
  22. ^ "Musical Instrument Petting Zoo is coming August 12th 12 – 2pm – Lopez Island Library". Retrieved 2017-08-01.
  23. ^ "Library of Extraordinary Things: Culinary Cupboard | Elmhurst Public Library". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  24. ^ Johnson, Cat (June 15, 2016). "The Library of Things: 8 Spaces Changing How We Think About Stuff". Shareable. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  25. ^ Alteir, Nuran (May 29, 2015). "Checking 'things' out: Library offers bakeware and gadgets to accompany those how-to books". Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  26. ^ Tuttle, Brad. "22 Incredibly Useful Things Your Town Is Probably Giving Away for Free". Money. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  27. ^ Schwartz, Meredith (June 14, 2012). "Let Them Lend Cake Pans". Library Journal. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  28. ^ Lysgaard, Ingrid (October 20, 2015). "Check out a cake pan from the library - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  29. ^ Library, the Public. "LibGuides: Cake Pans: Overview". Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  30. ^ "Holiday baking with our cake pan collection | Andover Public Library". Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  31. ^ "Library of Things | Public Library of Brookline". Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  32. ^ "North Haven Memorial Library". North Haven Memorial Library. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  33. ^ "List of Cake Pans — Ackley Public Library". Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  34. ^ "Cake Pans - Seward Memorial Library". Seward Memorial Library. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  35. ^ Runyon, Luke (February 2, 2013). "How To Save A Public Library: Make It A Seed Bank". Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  36. ^ Dawson, Gloria (2013-07-17). "5 Public Libraries That Have Gone to Seed (Libraries)". Modern Farmer. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  37. ^ "Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library". Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  38. ^ "Welcome to the Seed Library". Pima County Public Library. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  39. ^ "A Seed Library Grows in Clayton | Depauville Free Library". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  40. ^ Landgraf, Greg (2014-12-08). "Seed Libraries and State Laws". American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  41. ^ Sentinel, Naomi Creason, The. "Department of Agriculture cracks down on seed libraries". The Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  42. ^ Renner, Serena (April 27, 2015). "Why are state governments shutting down community seed libraries?". Inhabit. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  43. ^ "The Shed: Garden Tool Lending Library". Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  44. ^ Lowe, Judy (2008-08-04). "Borrow garden tools at the library". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  45. ^ "Shrewsbury Public Library offers garden tools for checkout". Community Advocate. August 22, 2015. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  46. ^ "Growing Library Garden Programs". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  47. ^ Waltos, Michelle (2014-11-28). "Library Farm". NOPL. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  48. ^ "Tewksbury Public Library Community Garden | Tewksbury Library". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  49. ^ "About Home Tools | Ann Arbor District Library". Ann Arbor District Library. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  50. ^ "Power Check Energy Meter Program | Denver Public Library". Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  51. ^ Folven, Edwin (2015-07-02). "L.A. Public Library to loan energy usage monitors - Park Labrea News/ Beverly Press". Park Labrea News/ Beverly Press. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  52. ^ Blair, Elizabeth (August 13, 2013). "Beyond Books: Libraries Lend Fishing Poles, Pans And People". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  53. ^ "Fishing Rods, Reels and Tackle Available for Checkout | Ela Area Public Library". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  54. ^ Young, Jordan (April 9, 2014). "Mesa's public libraries offering books, DVDs – and croquet sets". Cronkite News. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  55. ^ "Library of Things | City of Hillsboro, OR". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  56. ^ "LIbrary of Extraordinary Things: Celebrate | Elmhurst Public Library". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  57. ^ Figueroa, Miguel (2014-09-15). "Maker Movement". ALA Center for the Future of Libraries. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  58. ^ "Library of Things | Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, Massachusetts". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  59. ^ "Library of Things". Livingston Public Library. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  60. ^ "About Science Tools | Ann Arbor District Library". Ann Arbor District Library. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  61. ^ "Borrow a Telescope | Worcester Public Library". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  62. ^ "Tool Lending Library | Oakland Public Library". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  63. ^ Householder, Mike (July 20, 2013). "Need A Tool? Libraries Lending More Than Books". CBS Detroit. Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  64. ^ "Ozarkansas Tool Library | Fayetteville Public Library". Retrieved 2017-08-08.
  65. ^ "The Tool Library". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  66. ^ a b Cottrell, Megan (2013-12-03). "Toy Libraries: A Place to Play". American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  67. ^ "American Girl Dolls | Oak Park Public Library". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  68. ^ "USA Toy Library Association". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  69. ^ Walker, Jennifer (2016-09-01). "Community Ties". American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  70. ^ Fawcett, Kirstin (2015-10-09). "You Can Check Out Taxidermy at This Alaskan Library". Mental Floss. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  71. ^ Caldwell, Suzanna (October 6, 2015). "Need a wolf fur? A puffin pelt? All you need is a library card and a visit to the ARLIS library". Alaska Dispatch News.
  72. ^ "Museum Pass | The Seattle Public Library". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  73. ^ "BPL - Museum Pass Reservations". Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  74. ^ Ward, Robbie. "Mississippi libraries offer much more than books". Daily Journal. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  75. ^ Retrieved 2018-10-26. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  76. ^ Balch, Oliver (2016-08-23). "Is the Library of Things an answer to our peak stuff problem?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-08-01.