Wilsonville library set to introduce 'Library of Things'
Wilsonville Public Library Administrative Assistant Brad Clark wants users of the Wilsonville Public Library to ask themselves one question: "If you could borrow one thing for a week, anything, what would it be?"
Clark's request isn't just a theoretical exercise. Such items could soon be available at the Wilsonville Library — and the library wants your input about which it will select.
The Wilsonville Public Library, as well as the West Linn, Lake Oswego and other libraries in Clackamas County, are planning to add a "Library of Things," where members can check out a variety of items other than books. Clark said the new feature could be ready by June.
The opportunity presented itself to the Wilsonville Library when Clackamas County offered grants to local libraries to start the "Library of Things" through its Sustainability and Solid Waste Program. Wilsonville Library Director Pat Duke said the library received about $1,500 through the program.
"It's a way to try new things and learn things from them and not contribute to greater waste," Clark said.
The Wilsonville Library is still deliberating how the Library of Things will work and what items will be included and is collecting input through a Clackamas County survey: www.bit.ly/LibraryofThingsInput.
"We're very much in an information gathering point with the public now to see what our library of things will look like," Clark said. "It's up to the community to say 'Hey, these are the things that we will use the most.'"
Wilsonville also has a few examples to look to for guidance.
The Hillsboro Public Library opened a Library of Things in 2015 and now houses over 200 items, and the Beaverton Public Library opened one last summer according to a Clackamas County press release. Wilsonville librarians recently toured the Hillsboro Library to get ideas.
"We don't need a lot of space to house these items because they're in such high demand; they're always checked out," Michele Caldwell with Beaverton City Library said in the press release.
Through his own research, Clark learned that some libraries allow members to check out bikes and a Kentucky library located near a nature park offers binoculars and bird watching backpacks.
Clark also said kitchen items, digital converter devices and musical instruments could be possibilities and that the Wilsonville Library might start with about 10 items and then add more from there.
"The sky is kind of the limit as far as our imagination goes in what we will be able to purchase," Clark said.
Like the Beaverton Library, Clark expects most items to be consistently checked out and that members will be able to put items on hold online. The library is also still deciding where the items would be housed.
Clark hopes that the collection will complement, rather than distract from, the library's collection of books.
"If you were checking out a kitchen item, there's every reason to believe you want to grab a cookbook that goes along with that item. If it were to be more of a nature kit, maybe you want to check that out along with our state's park pass and a book about birds in the area or wildlife in the northwest or flora or fauna," he said. "Think of the item and think of the complementary education stuff that could be put with it."