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Before I worked here, I imagined the library as I suppose many people do: the place where you pick out books, pay overdue fines, and get shushed by librarians who wear their glasses on chains.

But now, I can honestly say that none of those things are completely true. In November 2020, the Library went fine free, our librarians are generally chainless now, and the public spaces buzz with keyboard clicks, happy chatter, and children’s giggles. The books haven’t left – certainly not – but now they’ve been joined by a myriad of other items, including movies, video games, vinyl records, and a whole Library of Things that allows customers to explore their interests and talents in whole new ways.

In addition to the cake pans, power tools, and telescopes that were part of the inaugural collections, the Library of Things now offers:

Board Games – I LOVE having board game nights with my friends – we get together, eat pizza, and play a variety of games. What I don’t like, though, is buying a game just to find that we either don’t like it or it is in a HUGE box that I have to find someplace to store. We don’t have to worry about any of that now, though, because of the Library’s board game selection. The library carries party games (like Apples to Apples), strategy games (like Catan), preschool games (like Race to the Treasure!), and many, many others that don’t fall into a specific category.

My three-year-old son loves playing Count Your Chickens, which is a cooperative game that promotes counting. My six-year-old daughter loves Labyrinth so much that my mother ended up buying her a copy for fear that we would wear the Library’s copy out – and it is fun for adults, too. I particularly enjoy Codenames, Forbidden Island, and Kill Doctor Lucky. The library also has a few Escape Room games and a game called Spaceteam that (per the instructions) only takes five minutes to play and will (literally) have everyone in the room yelling at each other.

If you don’t want to be stuck inside this summer, the library also loans outdoor games that you can play. My favorite is croquet, which brings back memories of my childhood, and my kids alternatively love Ladder Toss and Giant Connect 4, which is almost bigger than my son is.

Puzzles – Our newest addition to the board game collection is a variety of jigsaw puzzles ranging from 60 pieces all the way up to 1000. The collection includes puzzles by Ravensburger, Cobble Hill, Buffalo, and White Mountain, so the puzzles themselves are high quality with engaging images. Some of the puzzles, like Candy Shelf and Bathing Birds, even feature extra large pieces for individuals who have eyesight or dexterity issues. Like the board games, it is nice to be able to borrow a puzzle and return it when you are finished instead of having to find a place to store it until the next time you feel like putting it together.

Sewing Machines – If you are a crafty individual or always wanted to try your hand at sewing, perhaps consider borrowing one of the library’s new sewing machines. The machines come with everything you need to get started sewing (various feet, a seam ripper, bobbins, and needles, among other things) with the exception of the thread and fabric you need for your project.

My mother has been an avid sewer and quilter for years and occasionally laments my lack of interest in the hobby. (Generally, you will find me with one of the puzzles listed above instead.)  Now that she knows the library provides access to sewing machines, she’s threatened to teach me how to hem my own curtains and repair my husband’s torn jeans! 

Musical Instruments – Officially releaseed July 19, musical instruments are our latest addition to the Library of Things. All of the instruments are played by hand (not mouth!) and include everything from kalimbas to cowbells, drum pads to djembes, bongos to bass guitars, and everything in between! (Okay, not really EVERYTHING, but we do have acoustic guitars, electric guitars, a keyboard, a child’s piano, a kid’s instrument collection, a 12 string baby harp, and two sizes of ukulele, too!)

As a mom, I know that kids can be really great at promising to follow through with various things (i.e. playing sports, taking care of pets, doing chores for compensation, etc.) and learning a musical instrument is no exception. It is nice knowing that I can borrow popular instruments for my family to try before we commit to purchasing anything (like that guitar I swore I would play that currently serves as an art piece in my family room…).

The library also has a large selection of printed music for guitar and piano that you can borrow to expand your current musical repertoire.

In the future, the library plans to continue expanding our Library of Things to include a wider variety of items. If there is something you would like to see added, contact us at av@mrcpl.org and let us know! In the meantime, stop by your favorite location to pick out a new book to read, reserve a game to play, or explore the other items the Library has to offer – they might be different than you think!

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