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Diary of a Librarian: Stuff I Think We Should Loan

I’m not going to bore you with another list of Rokus and cake pans. Everybody reading this already knows five librarians who are loaning hotspots. I’ve got half an hour before I jet off to celebrate my anniversary, so you’re just getting a piece of my mind today, nothing deep.

Here’s some stuff we need to loan and why.

Knitting and Crochet Supplies

Dude. Keeping knitting needles in stock is intense. Each quality set costs ten dollars and if you’re serious about cozies you’re going to need at least ten sizes. Crochet requires hooks, and honestly, who has the time or storage space for a number 1 needle set that you’ll use exactly once? On top of the cost of yarn, it ain’t worth it.

But what if we could *borrow* knitting needles and crochet hooks? What a wonderful world it would be! We could even start a yarn exchange while we’re at it and then I could crochet at work.

Medical Devices

Hear me out. Imagine that you need a CPAP machine. Imagine too that you pack this CPAP into your luggage and travel eight hours to your dear old grandma’s house to spend Thanksgiving, whereupon you discover that you have accidentally left the power cord plugged into the wall in your bedroom at home.

In a perfect world, you’d be able to borrow a CPAP power cord from the library! Same with wheelchairs, crutches, and reading glasses. For some of these potential lends, I envision a collaboration with a social services program that gets people permanent wheelchairs, eyeglasses, etc. and connects underserved patrons with affordable ownership alternatives. Obviously we wouldn’t loan anything biohazardous, but there are a lot of medically-specific and important items that don’t generally get blood or other yucky stuff on them.

Art Supplies

Good paintbrushes are mad expensive. We should just loan them. Easels, too, and maybe a really nice camera and some good lights.

Bicycles

Initially I wanted this section to be “cars,” but there’s too much going on there to be practical. However, some library somewhere should definitely lend bikes, bike helmets, bike carriers for cars, and trailers that attach to bikes and let you haul stuff around. The infrastructure for this kind of lending is already sort of in place. My own hometown of Salem accomplishes municipal bikeshare by partnering with a service called Zagster, apparently with great success. As long as libraries don’t unleash electric scooters on the land, we’d be doing a big service.

Solar Panels

Little portable ones! Ones that go on top of your car! Ones that go in your window! People are curious about solar panels but they don’t often get a chance to actually try them out themselves. Until they do, they won’t buy, but once they realize the reality of making power from sunlight for free, you won’t be able to hold them back. Libraries: saving the Earth again!

Meal Kits

Not with actual food, but with pictures of the food you need to make an awesome meal! I envision a large bag or box that is mostly empty to start except for a curated set of recipes that represent one whole, healthy meal; a laminated shopping list; and a dry erase marker. Don’t know what to cook tonight? Grab a library meal kit! Fill the bag with your ingredients at the store and off you go. Maybe we could even include some prep supplies, like good knives.

Come on. We loan $3,000 telescopes, for Pete’s sake. The patrons can handle some good knives.

Lockers

We could charge a small fee for these and use them to make some money for the library. Think $5 a day or $7 a week. Will people use them for crime? Yup. Just like they illegally pirate the CDs that we freely loan and do all manner of horrible things using our free wifi hotspots and in-house webcams. We should do it anyway. Even at my library, which is somewhat hard to reach without a car, we have enough latchkey children hanging out after school that having a place for them to dump their stuff – or stash stuff they’ll need, like an extra sweater or a change of clothes – could be really useful to them. Frankly, it could be a service to the homeless as well.

Party Kits

Who doesn’t want to throw a nice party? Nobody! Who has nice party stuff these days? Nobody! That’s expensive! That’s why libraries need to stock party packs that include washable plates, bamboo silverware, reusable bunting, etc. Zero waste partying for the win!

OK, that’s it, half an hour of alternative collection ideas. Comment to snarkily inform me that you’re already doing this at your library or that the lockers are completely impractical.

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