Unusual collections for public libraries

showing the seed packets of the Seed Library at Tamworth

Seed Library at Tamworth

Have you thought about what types of collections you could have at your library other than the usual books, DVDs, etc.? What about an unusual collection?  Unusual or experimental collections are a great way of partnering with groups within your local community, providing an exciting new option for your customers and gaining cross promotion for the library. Perhaps your library is situated near an observatory – you could loan telescopes with the assistance of an astronomy group (Camden Library); perhaps your community has an active gardening group – you could start a seed library (Tamworth and Port Macquarie-Hastings libraries), are there good fishing spots near your library – you could loan out fishing rods (Rhode Island library).  These are all examples of unusual collections that are in existence today.

Unusual collections are an opportunity to fill a gap that may exist in your community.  Not everyone wants to purchase a $500 telescope to find out they don’t like using it, wouldn’t it be great to be able to borrow one to try it out first? How many times do you require a level or a stud finder when renovating?  Wouldn’t it be great to loan one from the library instead of paying out to buy one to only use it once or twice?

What unusual collection should your library have? Start by thinking about what is unique about your community and what active groups are operating that you could partner with. If you provide the items will they provide the technical experience or educational know-how? You can promote them as helping the library and they can promote the library when they have functions or meetings. Get the media involved and let them know about the quirky collection you are starting up.  You’ll find that people will come in to join simply because they want to borrow that one item – then who knows what else they will borrow while they’re there.

Think about what unusual collection your library could have.  The options are endless!

by Shiralee Franks, Central Northern Regional Library

The content in this guest blog post was presented at Reference at the Metcalfe 25 May 2016.