The Library of Things

More than ever, libraries are offering nontraditional items for checkout

June 1, 2017

The Library of Things pull-out poster, illustrated by Brian Mead.
The Library of Things pull-out poster, illustrated by Brian Mead.

Libraries loaning “stuff” isn’t a new concept. Framed paintings were available for checkout at the Newark (N.J.) Public Library back in 1904. “Libraries were sharing before sharing was cool,” says Miguel Figueroa, director of the American Library Association’s Center for the Future of Libraries.

As the sharing economy continues to swell, nontraditional collections become more pervasive, community-specific, and imaginative. Here are some of our favorite unusual items circulating at libraries in North America (click to expand).