Your Library Card Can Get You So Much More Than Books
If you only use your library card to borrow books, you're missing out. While proud library card-holders will tell you about the music and movies you can check out from your local branch, these days many libraries offer a lot more.
A few years ago, the Sacramento, California public library started a new service called the Library of Things where patrons could borrow books, of course, but also sewing machines, GoPro cameras, hedge trimmers, button makers, and a lot more. Patrons loved the ability to borrow things like pressure washers, projectors, and screen printers, which are useful but not necessarily something you want in the garage forever. Soon, the idea caught on nationwide.
Now across the South people with library cards can borrow all sorts of amazing things for free.
For instance, the New Orleans Public Library offers bike locks for patrons to protect their bikes while they check out books. They also offer bike fix-it stations and workshops on bicycle safety and maintenance. They also have a Museum Partner Pass program with free passes to the Ogden Museum and Southern Food and Beverage Museum for patrons to borrow.
The Arlington Public Library in Virginia loans out American Girl dolls. Georgia's public library system offers 3D Printing, Legos, video production, robotics, and a lot more in their makerspaces. Cardholders can also use their library cards to get passes to the Atlanta Zoo, Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, and more. You can also borrow items like sewing machines and even a green screen for film special effects.
If you're interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail, the Fontana Regional Library in North Carolina will let you check out a backpack, along with nature guides and trail maps.
Over in Manatee County, Florida, the library offers everything from telescopes to fishing poles to ukuleles. They also offer museum passes for any library card holders who want to visit the Gulf Coast's South Florida Museum.
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The Saline Public Library in Arkansas lets its patrons check-out Halloween costumes, and considering that most kids wear them once a year, this idea could appeal to parents who are tight on storage space. Similarly, prom dresses are expensive and only worn once, so the Dallas Public Library lets patrons borrow them. For a little extra magic, the Bolivar County Library in Mississippi has offered Santa suits to its patrons wanting to have a little holiday fun.
The Nashville Public Library has a seed exchange to "borrow" vegetable, herb, and flower seeds. If you do manage to grow a vegetable or two, head to one of the library's cooking classes to learn what to do with it—or a yoga class to work it off.
Virginia's Suffolk Public Library offers cake pans of every model, crocheting and knitting kits, and even road trip ready adventure kits filled with books, puzzles, and games all in a handy tote bag.
And while it's not technically a public library, the Asheville Tool Library offers over 1,000 items, including every tool you can think of from chisels to pitchforks to chainsaws, as well as useful items like folding camp chairs and space heaters to borrow as needed.
At the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, patrons can learn to podcast, borrow everything you need for a book club (well, not the wine), and even put on fashion shows wearing donated costumes from Children's Theatre of Charlotte.
A library card from the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library in Florida can be used to get a Discovery Pass for the Glazer Children's Museum or a Stage Works Theater Performance.
Perhaps the best service, though, is at the Monroe Library at New Orleans' Loyola University, which has let patrons borrow therapy dogs to soothe their harried souls.
To see what your library has to offer, head down to a local branch and sign up for your card.