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How Libraries Stay Relevant in the Digital Age

Public libraries are doubling down on lending analog objects. Here are some of the wackiest finds.

Ukulele

Ukulele

Highland Park Public Library, hplibrary.‌org
Sure, a ukulele looks like fun, but how often would you really pluck it? Save yourself the impulse-buy regret and borrow one for two weeks instead.
Photos: (camera, cake pan, doll) Courtesy of vendors; (all others) istockphoto

 

GoPro camera

GoPro camera

Skokie Public Library, skokielibrary.‌info
The gadget collection here includes microphones, MP3 recorders, and scanners—everything you need for your web series about artisanal cheese.

 

Seeds

Seeds

Lisle Library District, lislelibrary.‌org
How do you return something you bury underground? Bring in the new seeds from the plants you grow.

 

Sewing machine

Sewing machine

Ela Area Public Library, eapl.‌org
Set up a DIY sweatshop with the five Singer Curvy machines that must be used onsite in the library’s Forge space.

 

Cake pan

Cake pan

Oak Lawn Public Library, olpl.‌org
Not a baker? The library also loans violins, a skeleton, and an LCD projector.

 

Fishing pole

Fishing pole

Chicago Public Library (Rogers Park and seven other locations near water), chipublib.‌org
CPL beat many libraries to the alternative-collection punch, adding poles and tackle boxes donated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in the ’90s.

 

Tripod

Tripod

Downers Grove Public Library, downersgrovelibrary.‌org
Create your own pop-up photo studio. Professional-grade lights and lenses are also available.

 

Kilowatt meter

Kilowatt meter

Orland Park Public Library, orlandparklibrary.‌org
You get a week to find out which of your appliances are the biggest power vampires.

 

American Girl doll

American Girl doll

Joliet Public Library, jolietlibrary.‌org
You can temporarily gift Addy, Kit, or Josefina. If you have a hard enough heart to rip a doll away from a kid.

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