You can’t beat free. And the latest chapter in library lending is one that could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year. So dust off your library cards and check out the growing library of stuff.
Throughout Metrowest’s Minuteman Library Network, you can borrow 12,000 things. You just need a library card. And it’s free for anyone who lives, works, or studies in Massachusetts.
Of course, you can always find your favorite mystery book on the shelves. But now you can “write” your own creative story, with tools, tents, musical instruments, sewing machines, saws, cake pans, karaoke machines, podcasting equipment and more Again ! You just need to be 18 or older.
WHY ARE “THINGS” PART OF A LIBRARY’S MISSION?
“The Library of Things is a collection of non-traditional materials for loan, and it kind of fits into our core mission of just increasing equitable access,” said Kim Hewitt, Library Manager at Needham Public Library.
At Brookline, Public Library Director Amanda Hirst explained, “For a lot of people, the last time they went to a library was when they were kids. And we still have books and all the other stuff you might expect. But we’ve also kept pace with all the latest technology.
Over the years they have added DVDs, audio books, cell phone charging stations and chrome books.
“Now we are adding tools and cake pans and things that our customers can use. We want to be the center of the community. We want people, when they need information or materials, to think to us first. And so we want to be able to provide things to our community and connect them with information and now tools,” Hirst says.
DEVELOP NEW SKILLS WITHOUT BREAKING THE BUDGET
At Brookline, “When we created the collection, we intended to have materials that people could use to learn a new skill and then provide them with the necessary supplies,” Hirst said.
And if you want to paint a room, you can also find a design inspiration book.
At Needham, Hewitt said: “This is a really fabulous opportunity for consumers to save money by trying before they buy. “Ssee if this hobby really sticks. See if their child really wants to play the ukulele before committing.
Many also borrow items they need for building projects, which can save you money. Household tools can be hundreds of dollars.
Or think about arts and crafts. A Cricut craft machine is over $300. No need to invest in something you’ll only use once. And it’s also a space saver. A $25 gingerbread pan also takes up a lot of space in the kitchen. This way you can clean it up and send it back directly to the library.
Occasionally there are hiccups.
“A funny thing happened to us: someone wasn’t quite clear on how to use the cake pan and they actually put the bag in the oven with the pan. And for us to be damaged,” Hirst says.
FROM DEWEY DECIMAL TO DIY: SHOULD LIBRARIANS NOW BE TOOL EXPERTS?
It’s one thing to know the ins and outs of the Dewey Decimal System – the way the books are organized. It’s another to master the world of Do-It-Yourself. But library directors who spoke to NBC10 Boston say their job is to connect you to the information you need to understand how to make these things work.
“As librarians,” Hewitt said, “we are experts at helping find information.” Tools and other “things” come with instructions and links to videos for descriptions of how they work. And if reading is really your thing, remember: you don’t have to pay to read or even listen to books. Many libraries offer free subscription services to eBooks or downloadable audiobooks.
For more information, visit the minuteman library network website: www.minlib.net. Click on a handy library to see if they have a library of things available. If you are from the hometown of the library, you can reserve the items. Otherwise, you can show up with your card and borrow what’s on it.