Check Out More Than Books at the Library

Books Are Just the Beginning at the Library

When I was growing up, we lived next door to my grandparents. They picked us up from school and kept an eye on us when we played in the backyard. Plus, they were always there when we needed something, lending us ribbons for our dolls or an extra cup of sugar when we were making cookies. Many things went back and forth between their house and ours over the years, as we learned the lessons of borrowing and sharing in turn. Being able to share life’s little necessities with others is a pleasure and a privilege, but a necessity when times are lean. It’s also becoming more popular. The term “sharing economy” is part of the lexicon now as more people have turned to sharing produce (community gardens), homes (Airbnb), rides (Uber), and more. I like to think libraries invented the sharing economy. We’ve always been encouraging people to borrow our stuff. Last year, people borrowed over 4.6 million things from the 24 libraries in Waukesha and Jefferson counties. And that’s not just books. Here’s a look at some of the more…interesting….items you can check out with your library card. 

Board games. The nights are getting longer and the days are getting colder. Time to break out the board games! But with most games costing anywhere from $30-$50, who can do Family Game Night on that kind of budget? You can get them from the library instead!  Take home classics like Monopoly or new strategy games like Settlers of Catan and Castle Panic from several Waukesha County libraries. Search for your favorite in the CAFÉ catalog.

Knitting and crochet needles. The weather is getting colder, which means we’re breaking out our cozy knitted sweaters, hats, and mittens. If you’re working on a knitting or crochet project but need a Size 8 circular knitting needle, you can borrow one from the Dwight Foster Public Library in Fort Atkinson until your project is finished.

Energy lamps. Winter also means less daylight and less Vitamin D for our bodies. The lack of light can affect our mood and wellbeing over time, which is why the Jefferson Public Library and Dwight Foster Public Library offer natural spectrum Energy Lamps. While you can’t take them home, you can use one inside the library, relaxing with a good book while you soak up some rays.

Craft kits. Pinterest has cute craft ideas for kids but the finished product doesn’t always look like it’s supposed to. Try a craft kit from the library instead. Kits include the materials, directions, and templates, making your life a lot easier and giving the kids something fun to do. A lot of our libraries offer these, and they change them out frequently so that there’s always new crafts to choose from.

Hotspots. Visiting family up North with spotty Internet connection? Or maybe you will be on the road and don’t want to use your data while you’re driving. A few of our libraries have the solution in their collections: portable WiFi devices called hotspots. Reliable and easy to transport, the hotspot ensures you’ll always be connected.

Kayaks. That’s right, I said kayaks. Powers Memorial Library in Palmyra has two beautiful orange kayaks, complete with paddles and life jackets, for anyone who just needs to get out on the water.

And that’s not all. Our libraries lend out American Girl dolls, seeds for your garden, ereaders like Nooks and Kindles, and much more. Since our catalog is online, you can search for library materials anywhere and anytime. Are you looking for something unique? You might be surprised to find that the library has got you covered. After all, we love to share. It’s what we do.

A version of this article appeared in the Waukesha Freeman, the Oconomowoc Enterprise, the Daily Jefferson County Union, and the Watertown Times. We will be sharing those pieces here on our website a few weeks after each piece has been printed.