Library of Things inspires and delights at CRRL

by | Mar 20, 2024 | ALLFFP, Non-Profits

Why buy when you can borrow? Need a radon detector just once or want to try a craft before investing in all the gear just in case you discover it’s not for you? The Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Library of Things can help.   

Just like checking out a book or reading a magazine online, CRRL’s Library of Things circulates items such as outdoor games, environmental tools, early childhood literacy packs, and craft kits. With a $7,500 Duff McDuff Green Jr. Grant from The Community Foundation, CRRL plans to expand the collection this spring.  

In April 2022, CRRL established its Library of Things to extend the library’s mission of inspiring lifelong learning by providing “non-traditional” items to engage and delight customers.  

Adriana Puckett, Collection and Customer Services Coordinator, oversees the project.

“It provides an incentive to come to the library and can actually lead to ongoing use,” she said. “So people who may say they’re not readers may be interested in a tool library for instance. It keeps the library relevant by reflecting our community’s interests.”  

This unusual library allows customers access to items they may not want to purchase or do not have the funds to purchase. It began with loaning out hotspots and Chromebooks during the pandemic and now includes kits for playing badminton, yard dice, card making and stamping, wood burning and even reading kits for all ages.  

All of the “things” can be reserved online and checked out for two weeks from any library branch. Each kit comes in a carrying case and some include instructions and materials that are restocked once the kit is returned. The more popular items stay checked out, and several of the kits have duplicates. 

Early reader kits include phonics and sight word games.

The literacy kits, a combination of picture books, activities, and games, are designed around specific themes to help children learn letters, sight words and eventually reading.

“These were designed for caregivers to be able to work with their children and just have fun around the themes of reading, writing, singing, playing and talking,” Puckett said.  

This grant will allow the Library of Things to expand to include astronomy kits, bird-watching kits, gardening kits, hiking kits with GPS units, and more outdoor games like disc golf and giant four-in-a-row games. Suggestions for future kits are always welcomed, Puckett said.   

“We will also be refreshing our Adventure Packs,” added Joe Prince, Collection Development Manager.   

The Adventure Packs were created nearly 10 years ago in partnership with The Community Foundation, Stafford 350, and Friends of the Rappahannock. “These are kits that encourage children to go outside and explore the world around them,” Prince said.  

The Butterfly Bonanza kit includes a butterfly guide and a bug catcher, plus a reflection journal. “They are such a great idea, to be able to just grab a pack and go and do something with your family and it’s all figured out for you,” Puckett added.  

Puckett and Prince imagine Adventure Packs and the Library of Things kits being used by a homeschooling family, checked out for a birthday party or event, or to supplement a music educator’s lesson plans.  

Next on the Library of Things’ wish list – ukuleles with lessons streamed from the Hoopla app. Using a Hoopla BingePass, customers can stream Fret Zealot, check out a ukulele from CRRL, and learn how to play. “This is like the Netflix of music education,” Puckett said.     

Librarian Joe Prince demonstrates an electronic tabletop drum kit.

Or bring home an electronic drum kit and spend the day banging away—without disturbing the household.  

“This thing is wild,” Prince said, as he dragged out a floppy piece of rubber-like material with brightly colored circles on it. “The customer gets drumsticks and a little instruction book and this flexible drumming pad and the best part is you can record yourself playing and no one would even know because it pairs with ear buds.”  

Puckett said CRRL will be sure to keep more than one drum kit in the rotation due to its expected popularity. “We never add just one Library of Things item.”   

It’s just one more way that libraries evolve to meet the needs of their communities, Puckett said. 

“People know now that technology is a big part of libraries, and we have computer access and Wi-Fi and printing and that’s been part of the story. But now we’re really going in some really interesting and unique ways. [The library] is supposed to be part of the fabric of people’s lives. The library should be there in all different kinds of spheres.” 

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