I read a post this week about how academic libraries don’t have Libraries of Things. That doesn’t seem true. Lots of academic libraries check out non-print things, like laptops, cameras, calculators, and even skeletons. Of course, compared to what you see on offer at public libraries, that’s not all that exciting, even if it is based on what students might really need while in the library or on campus.
But, there are academic libraries who are developing more comprehensive Libraries of Things. We’re one of them.
First a disclaimer. I can’t take the credit for this project. Our Acquisitions & Cataloging Librarian came to me last fall about writing a mini-grant for funding to finally get one going at our library. We did with my name as lead with hope we’d score more money (I can explain the ins and outs of our President’s mini-grant program if you’re interested.) But she did the bulk of the work on the grant language. I did some proofreading and tweaking. We got the grant. Since then we’ve worked together some on the project. I wrote the mid-year grant update. Overall, though, I’m giving her credit for the project. She developed the initial list of items, did the background research, has provided me with examples of policies and procedures to use when developing our own, and has contacted various other campus entities for feedback and input.
Okay. What I can tell you about our Library of Things. It’s still in development. We have already received things like a ukulele, guitar, piano keyboard, bongos, record player with the ability to convert vinyl to CD/MP3, air quality meter, graphing calculators, sewing machine, Ellison Die Cut machine and assorted dies, SAD lights, a karaoke machine and a variety of board games. We thought about things that would be useful for our students and things they might not have access to normally.
We’re finishing up our basic policy. There will also be a user agreement that each person will sign when they check out an item. A copy will be kept on file at the library and the patron will get a copy to keep.
Storage is an issue. We’re still figuring this one out. Our Circulation staff have been involved in those discussions.
We plan to have a petting zoo/open house event when we’re ready to go live. This will be a chance to demo some of the things that require some instruction and show off the collection.
I’m excited about this new collection. It’s been a process getting it set up. If you’re interested in learning more about how we’re managing this at an academic library, I hope we’ll be presenting a poster session this fall. In the meantime, I’ll get you in contact with the librarian here. She’d be happy to chat.