Library of Things popular during holiday season
On the Monday morning of Thanksgiving week, Hillsboro Library's Brookwood branch was busy as usual.
A handful of young bookworms and their parents dodged raindrops and returned to the parking lot a short time later with bags of books and movies.
But this time of year, hardbacks might not be the most popular item at Brookwood — the rush is on to nab high-demand kitchen items from the Library of Things.
Two years ago, the Brookwood and Shute Park libraries launched the Library of Things — a program that allows patrons to check out other items than books or CDs.
The collection started small, with a handful of board games, but the collection has grown to include everything form waffle irons to croquet sets and chimney sweep brushes, which patrons can check out for a week at a time.
Librarian Brendan Lax, who manages the collection, said as the holidays approach the Library of Things will become even more popular as patrons rush to check out specialty kitchen equipment.
"There are a handful of things on hold at the moment — the roaster oven, the turkey fryer and the crock pot — that we only have one or two of," Lax said. "You're unlikely to see them if you haven't already put a hold in. They're the things people don't own extra of, and outside of the holidays they're not super popular."
While the big items may already be gone, there are still plenty of options for anyone looking to spice up a holiday get-together: cake pans, cookie cutters and a cookie press are all up for grabs, Lax said. Patrons can also check for non-holiday related items like a chocolate fountain, fondue set, camera equipment and breadmaker.
The library spends several thousand dollars each year on maintenance and upkeep of the Library of Things collection, Lax said, and librarians try to add to the collection each year. There's a white board for suggestions at the Brookwood branch, and Lax said the board fills with suggestions every day or two — recently, requests for STEM toys or robots and home tools.
As popular as holiday items can be, the library isn't likely to double its collection of crock pots just yet.
"At this point, we walk a fine line," Lax said. "We advertise the collection to the point that people are checking things out, but don't overdo it so we have more demand than we can deal with. We're at a good place right now with a lot of stuff, and we're trying hard to buy extra copies of things."
Since the Library of Things started in 2015, Lax said the item with the most holds has been the air fryer, which circulates hot air at high speed to cook food. The library's VHS to DVD converters have also been extremely popular, he said.