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21Country: The Library of Things

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - The Allen County Public Library houses a collection of 2.53 million print books, 103,524 movies, 69,500 CD’s, hundreds of computers, and even video games!

But its newest addition, is the most unique resource of all: The Library of Things.

Introduced in the summer of 2021, The Library of Things is kept at the ACPL’s Little Turtle branch.

It includes an array of items like musical instruments, outdoor games, technology, and arts and crafts.

Branch manager Carla Bauman told us the idea itself isn’t new, though having non-traditional items available for the public to borrow now, is a first for ACPL.

She explained planning has been in the works for some time.

“It was really an important thing for us to launch it at a time where people might like to try something different, like learning how to play a keyboard, or taking up birdwatching, or learning how to knit or decorate cakes,” she said.

Bauman said a survey was giving to library patrons to learn what might be most useful to them.

“Are you interested in this? If you are, what would you like to see in it?” She continued, “That’s how the outdoor games got added actually. It’s not something that we considered people would actually want!”

Now, your library card can get you access to a volleyball set, ladder toss, cornhole, lawn darts, and bowling.

That’s just the outdoor games.

Other items include a karaoke player, ukulele, weaving loom, and paper quilling kit.

“The item that is the most popular, is the bluetooth project,” Bauman told us, “we had no idea there would be such a need for a bluetooth projector. Number two on that list is the blu-ray player.”

In addition to resources like guitars and keyboard, the library also provides access to digital instruction, on how to learn playing them.

And while many pieces within The Library of Things cost significantly more than a book, Bauman remains impressed at how the launch has gone so far.

“We can trust folks - these items have been circulating through June and nothing’s come back broken. Nothing’s come back damaged,” she said, “that’s why we list the price on each expensive item, so that folks kind of understand more fully, what kind of responsibility they’ll have with it.”

Patrons must be over 13-years-old to have access to the collection, which is available to all ACPL library cardholders.

Items can be reserved online, and sent to the most convenient user’s branch.

Though the program is still new, Bauman hopes it will become a big part of the library’s future.

“We’d like to be able to expand it, if that’s what the community wants,” she told us, “I hope that people see the library as… not what they remember.”

“Maybe not that place where you would get ‘shushed’ if you made a sound that’s too loud. I would hope that people see The Library of Things, and also see other opportunities for learning, and community, and just for personal enrichment through the library.”

The collection, and the items in it, were funded through the ACPL’s gift fund, and with donations from The Friends of the Library.

You can see all the items available here.

Author Profile Photo

Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals is the producer of the ABC21 feature franchise “21Country”. He is constantly on the lookout for ideas that capture the “people, places, things, and history” that makes Northeast Indiana unique. Feel free to reach out: dbeals@wpta21.com.

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