Better World

You’ll be able to check out a lot more than free books when this trend hits your local library

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Imagine visiting your local library to check out books, movies, and now…tools and sports equipment? That’s right. Open to everyone, public libraries have long provided free access to knowledge, and now they’re expanding that access to include some of life’s essentials (and a few non-essentials, too). 

What is a Library of Things?

Similar to local libraries, Libraries of Things allow people to check out objects much like you would a book. From gardening tools to board games to musical instruments, dozens of public libraries are incorporating Libraries of Things into their catalogs—expanding access to all kinds of necessities for folks who rely on free services like the library for their everyday needs. The new offerings are also a great resource for those wanting to try a new hobby or learn a new skill without having to personally invest in all the equipment first. 

A burgeoning sharing economy and recent trends like the Konmari Method—an organization philosophy popularized by Marie Kondo through her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the accompanying Netflix series “Tidying Up”—have motivated millions of people to pare down on consumption. The idea is that the less stuff we all have, the healthier our minds and our planet. Libraries of Things allow people to borrow items they might only use occasionally in order to buy less and produce less waste.

What does this mean for my family?

For parents, having a Library of Things nearby may mean you don’t have to run out and buy or rent a golf club or violin every time your kiddo decides to try a new activity. But beyond the items that people simply need from time to time, Libraries of Things can do some real good in communities by providing items such as portable grills to the homeless. 

To find a Library of Things near you, the best place to start is your local library. Ask the staff if they have a Library of Things or if they can point you to any in the area. You can also search for a local tool lending library, which will often have basic household tools and gardening items.

At the end of the day, Libraries of Things bring communities together, to lean on one another, and to learn from each other. In that sense, they’re carrying on the legacy of public libraries for generations to come.

The former Content Director at Parenting, and several other brands, Ana Connery is a writer and content strategist whose work appears in USA Today, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, Cafe Mom/The Stir, Momtastic, and others.