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Published: May 16, 2019 7 min read
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Arthur had it right: Having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card.

And these days, neither is getting free stuff.

Libraries aren't just repositories for books and ancient computers. The past couple of years have seen the rise of the Library of Things, a section of each regular library that contains fun, unique items. Seeds, cake pans, audio/video equipment and kids' science kits are among the standard offerings, but some towns take it to the next level, allowing patrons to borrow everything from chargers to bicycles from their unusual library collections.

The list of weird things to borrow from a Library of Things is endless. Want to try an Instant Pot before you buy it? No problem. Need a tent for a camping trip? They've got one. How about a Pack'N'Play for a visiting relative? Just ask at the desk.

Glenn Ferdman, the director for the Beaverton City Library in Oregon, says his location started a Library of Things last summer after members of the community responded to a survey asking for one. It's a mixture of "try it before you buy it" and filling a need for "those things you use once in a blue moon, like a power washer," he says.

"The Library of Things is another example of how libraries have continued to evolve," Ferdman adds. "They're no longer your grandmother's library."

While some systems, like in Park Hills, Missouri, rely on donations to stock their Library of Things, the Beaverton library purchases items itself. In fact, its Library of Things has been so popular that staffers requested additional funds in this year's budget so they could keep expanding the collection. As it stands, the Beaverton library's kitchenware, outdoor equipment, games and more are "flying off the shelves."

"We actually have a shelving unit ostensibly to house the collection, but there are very rarely any items on there because they're in constant use," Ferdman says. "It has a lot of appeal, particularly for folks who don't necessarily have the means and discretionary income to purchase a variety of things they would otherwise be interested in."

Of course, not every library has a Library of Things collection. Even in the ones that do, you can't randomly waltz in and start grabbing things.

Before checking anything out from a non-traditional library collection, you'll need to know how to get a library card (generally, the answer is apply online and then stop by to show proof of address). You'll need to be aware of what time the library opens and closes, and you'll need to figure out what cool library services your local one has available.

To get you started, here's a list of 200 non-book things libraries in the U.S. lend out for free:

1. 3D printing pen

2. accordion

3. air fryer

4. air mattress

5. air quality monitor

6. Alexa

7. American Girl doll

8. amp


10. art

11. Atari

12. bath bomb kit

13. bicycles

14. bike locks

15. binoculars

16. birding journal

17. blood pressure monitor

18. Blu-ray player

19. Bluetooth speaker

20. board games

21. bocce ball

22. bongo drums

23. bottle cutter

24. bounce house

23. breadmaker

26. briefcase

27. bubble machine

28. bug container

29. bullet journaling kit

30. Bundt cake

31. butter churn

32. button maker

33. cake pans

34. cake pop maker

35. camcorder

36. camping tent

37. canning kit

38. cassette tape recorder

39. caulking gun

40. CD player

41. cheese warmer

42. chimney brush

43. chocolate fountain

44. Chromecast

45. circuits

46. Code-a-Pillar

47. coffee grinder

48. color blindness glasses

49. colored pencils

50. cookie cutters

51. cookie press

52. cooler

53. cornhole

54. CPR kit

55. Crockpot

56. croquet set

57. deep fryer

58. disc golf

59. doughnut maker

60. drill

61. drones

62. Echo Dot

63. fabric cutter

64. fishing pole

65. flashlight

66. flour mill

67. folding chair

68. food dehydrator

69. food grinder/sausage stuffer

70. French press

71. Fujifilm Insta Mini 9 camera

72. ghost meter

73. giant Connect Four

74. giant Jenga

75. golf range finder

76. Google Cardboard

77. GoPro

78. green screen kit

79. guitar

80. hammock

81. hand blender

82. hand lettering kit

83. handbells/deskbells

84. hard drive

85. headlamp

86. hula hoop

87. ice cream maker

88. infrared thermometer

89. Instant Pot

90. iPad

91. jewelry cleaner

92. juicer

93. KanJam

94. karaoke machine

95. kids' toys

96. Kindle Fire

97. knife sharpener

98. knitting needles

99. label maker

100. laminator

101. lawn checkers

102. lawn darts

103. lawn mower

104. leaf blower

105. loom kit

106. luggage scale

107. Magna-Tiles

108. Mahjong set

109. metal detector

110. micro-USB cables

111. microscope

112. mini sequencing synthesizer

113. mochi maker

114. MP3s

115. museum passes

116. NES Classic

117. Nikon digital camera

118. Nintendo Switch

119. Nook

120. notebook scanner

121. Oregon Trail handheld game

122. Pack'N'Play playard

123. panini maker

124. paper quilling kit

125. paper shredder

126. parachute

127. pasta machine

128. pedometer

129. Pickleball

130. picnic blankets

131. Playstation 4

132. pliers

133. pocket magnifier

134. pom pom tassel maker

135. popcorn machine

136. Popsicle molds

137. portable photo studio

138. portable turntable

139. portable WiFi hotspots

140. power bank

141. pressure washer

142. projector

143. puppets

144. purse

145. puzzle

146. raclette

147. radon detector

148. rapid egg cooker

149. Raspberry Pi

150. record player

151. resistance bands

152. robotic cat

153. robotic dog

154. rocks

155. Roku

156. Roomba

157. SAD lamp

158. saw

159. seeds

160. Sega Genesis

161. selfie stick

162. sewing machine

163. shaved ice machine

164. sheet music

165. silly ice cube trays

166. SkipDr Disc Repair System

167. skulls

168. slackline set

169. slide and negative converter

170. snow cone machine

171. snowshoes

172. soil tester

173. sous vide

174. spices

175. spiralizer

176. stand mixer

177. stroller

178. stud finder

179. stuffed animal

180. telescope

181. tennis racket

182. ties

183. tortilla press

184. tote bag

185. trail camera

186. tripod

187. tub of Legos

188. umbrella

189. VHS-to-DVD converter

190. violin

191. Vitamix

192. volleyball set

193. VR headset

194. Wacom tablet

195. waffle maker

196. webcam

197. wheelbarrow

198. white noise machine

199. yoga mat

200. yogurt maker