Beyond Books: What You Can Check Out At America’s Libraries

A public library is open to everyone, free to join, and a repository of literature, history, science and current events — and that’s just the books. All across America, public libraries are expanding their services to meet the shifting needs of their communities. Today, every public library has computers with Internet access, you can borrow DVDs and music CDs, and many even lend out laptops and e-readers. There are, however, a few exceptional public libraries that go a step farther. The Ann Arbor District Library in Ann Arbor, Mich., loans out a metal detector, a detailed model of the human brain, a spinning wheel, and a Moog Theremini (an electronic musical instrument). Similarly, the Sacramento Public Library loans out musical instruments, a screen printing kit to design your own t-shirts, and even a GoPro HD camera. At the Portland, Maine, library, you can check out a cider mill, or if it’s time for an oil change, you can get a set of car ramps on loan. So, the next time you plan on going to your library, check out the items they may have for you to borrow.