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Games and Toys? Get Them at the Library!

Many public libraries have “libraries of things,” where people can borrow games, toys, tools, and much more!

Bowling pins, a 3D printer, horseshoes, binoculars, and more are on a table under a sign that says Library of Things

© Margaret Kispert—The Register/USA TODAY NETWORK

Some libraries of things have everything from binoculars to 3D printers!

Have you ever gotten bored with a toy or realized it wasn’t as fun as you thought it would be? Did you know there are places where you can borrow stuff to see if you like it? They’re called “libraries of things,” and they’re located in many public libraries. Anyone with a library card can borrow a range of items, just like they borrow books.

Available to kids and adults, libraries of things often have toys, board games, video games, musical instruments, sewing machines, science kits, nature exploration equipment, telescopes, microscopes, baking pans, and more. By borrowing these items, people reduce waste because they’re sharing the use of items instead of buying new ones.

Borrowing instead of buying can also save people a lot of money, especially on items that are typically used only once or a few times. At many libraries, people can borrow power tools to do one-time repairs on their homes. Some libraries even lend out a device that tells people why their car’s dashboard is telling them to check the engine. Since that’s not something most people need often, owning one doesn’t usually make sense.

But what about musical instruments, video games, or anything that can be used in a hobby? Borrowing lets people try these things before they buy them. That’s what Daniel Plante of Dracut, Massachusetts, did after spotting a small stringed instrument called a ukelele at the local public library.

“I noticed that there were a bunch of things that you could just sign out and one of them was the ukulele. I had been talking to my wife, saying I’d love to try the ukulele and I thought, why not?” he told WBZ-TV in Massachusetts.

A librarian behind a circulation desk smiles as she plays a ukelele.

© Greg Derr—The Patriot Ledger/USA TODAY NETWORK

Many libraries of things have musical instruments available to borrow!

Check out the website of your local public library to find out if it has a library of things.

“The world is your oyster when you come to the library,” Erica Bess, assistant director at the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey, told WHYY News. “And the library has so many things that will make you say wow.”

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Fun Fact

In a library from long ago, a library patron says he will not forget his book’s due date while someone else says he will.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1959 (59.533.1620[16]);; Photo illustration Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Someone borrowed a book from a library in the year 1667 or 1668. It went missing for a long time and was not found and returned for almost 300 years!

Libraries of Things

People can borrow some surprising items from their public libraries! The map shows a few examples of items that are available around the United States. Use the key below to learn where each item is located.

A US map with illustrations of objects placed in different locations.

© notviper–iStock/Getty Images, © Neo/, © Vector Moon, Vlad Neshte, Pavlo Syvak, Rymkevich Yuliya, Monkographic, Nadezhda Ivanova, Infadel, Yulia Ryabokon, Olga Parshina, Seahorse Vector/; Composite illustration Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

1 – American Girl doll, Port Townsend (Washington) Public Library

2 – Sewing machine, Sacramento (California) Public Library

3 – Fishing rod, Kenai (Alaska) Community Library

4 – Volleyball set, Richmond (Utah) Public Library

5 – Bicycle repair kit, Denver (Colorado) Public Library

6 – Science kit, Denton (Texas) Public Library

7 – Bird watching kit, Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library, Trempealeau, Wisconsin

8 – Telescope, Ann Arbor (Michigan) District Library

9 – Giant tic-tac-toe, Stark Library, Canton, Ohio

10 – Jewelry making kit, New Hanover County (North Carolina) Public Library

11 – Nintendo Switch, Reading (Massachusetts) Public Library

12 – Snowshoes, McArthur Public Library, Biddeford, Maine

Be a Librarian!

A librarian and three kids sit on the floor of a library, reading a book.

© Lumeez—

If you love books, people, and learning new things, you might be interested in becoming a librarian!

What is it like to be a librarian? You can find out at Britannica!

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Word of the Day


Part of speech:



: to try or experience (something)

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