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Royal Oak’s Library of Things Helps Users with More Than Books and Media

Royal Oak’s Library of Things Helps Users with More Than Books and Media

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 8, 2021)

Royal Oak MI – While most people know of libraries as a place where patrons can borrow books, movies, and music, they may be surprised at what other items can be found in the Royal Oak Library’s latest collection – The Library of Things.

Here patrons can check out fun and useful items such as GoPro cameras, an electric keyboard, a guitar, a cue robot, an Amazon Firestick, Google Next, Kindles, and basics like tools, electronics, and games.  There’s even a Melissa & Doug puppet theatre, and Library Director Emily Dumas’ favorite – a Baby Yoga waffle maker.

When asked how the Library of Things came to be, Dumas said “It started organically when we added some non-traditional items to the collection, beginning with the seed library and then hotspots for checkout.  That was followed by memory kits and sun lamps, and then circulating Chromebooks.

“Following the good reception to these items, the library board and I worked out a plan to allocate a portion of the budget to building and growing an official “Library of Things” in which patrons could check out everything from gardening tools to electronics, to board games.  This gives patrons a chance to “try before they buy”, to conveniently borrow an item they may only need for a one-time use, or to simply experience something they may not have an opportunity to do otherwise.”

Items like the classic kids game Chutes and Ladders, the dinosaur shaped cake pan, and Slidequest have brought people joy in an isolating time.  And items like the 3 in 1 wall scanner and Kill-A-Watt electricity usage meter are helping people keep their homes in shape.

Dumas said other area libraries are expanding their offerings during the pandemic as well.   “A lot of the local libraries are starting to include hotspots and Chromebooks in light of the current situation, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that segue into a full Library of Things for them.  I saw that Ferndale Library now offers circulating games, and other libraries like Troy Public Library have unique things like a Universal Access Collection.  It’s great to see so many libraries thinking outside of the box of “traditional” library services and expanding our horizons to meet the needs of patrons,” she said. Items can be borrowed by cardholders in the same TPN network, and Royal Oak cardholders can also access items at other libraries, but items must be picked up at the home library.

Royal Oak Library Board Member Erin Van Beek and her family are regular users of the Library.  “I homeschool so we pick up books usually twice a week.  I rely on the library for our science books and beginner readers.  I also use their educational DVDs for science or special project we are working on.  We also check out lots of picture books

“When the library was closed for a short time during the beginning of the pandemic I purchased books to keep up with our schoolwork and fun reading – I spent several hundred dollars.  It really made me realize how much value we get out of borrowing our materials from the library!”

Whether it’s books, movies, a knitting needle set, or a 3x magnifying glass with 10 anti-glare dimmable LEDs, The Royal Oak Library has something to keep anyone busy this winter.  They also offer access to LinkedIn Learning, Ancestry, Scholastics Bookflix and Teachables, Creativebug, and five different platforms to read and stream digital content!

Plus, there’s more to come!  “This is just the beginning of the collection and we are constantly adding new items every week for all variety of interests and ages,” Dumas said.

Check out all of the Royal Oak Library’s offerings at https://www.ropl.org, and to search specifically for Library of Things items click here.

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