Check it out: Cool things you can check out from the library that aren’t books

click to enlarge The Moscow Public Library has seven ukeleles that patrons can check out. Three of the instruments were donated by Ukelele Players of the Palouse. - GEOFF CRIMMINS
Geoff Crimmins
The Moscow Public Library has seven ukeleles that patrons can check out. Three of the instruments were donated by Ukelele Players of the Palouse.

Libraries have long opened up new worlds to their patrons through the printed word.

Now, they’re just as likely to do the same with things like fishing poles, musical instruments and robots. While books remain a focus, many area libraries carry collections beyond books. In addition to DVDs, CDs and audiobooks, here are 10 things that can be checked out from regional libraries:

Ukulele. If you’ve considered learning to play the ukulele but don’t want to commit to a purchase, head to the library in Colfax, Pullman or Moscow. Ukulele Players of the Palouse recently donated a number of ukuleles to these libraries. You can check one out for up to three weeks, along with a tuner and instruction book. In Moscow, the ukulele is part of a Voyager Kit. In Colfax, you have to be over age 18 to check one out.

Where: Whitman County Library, Colfax; Neill Public Library, Pullman; Moscow Public Library  

Seeds. When the ground begins to thaw and you’re thinking about that summer garden, you can explore a seed collection. The heirloom seed collection in Colfax has 43 different kinds of seeds for things ranging from spinach to watermelon to rutabaga. How do you return the seeds that you “check out?” By harvesting them from your mature garden plants, of course. Colfax’s seeds come with instructions on how to do so.   

Where: Moscow Public Library; Whitman County Library, Colfax

Fishing poles. If you’ve got the itch to try some fishing but aren’t quite ready to jump in feet first, check one out from the library. Accompanied by a stocked tackle box, all you’ll need to embark on a fishing adventure is your library card and valid fishing license.

Where: Lewiston City Library, Asotin County Library

Projector. Whether you’re holding a meeting, making a presentation or just watching a movie, older-but-working projectors are available to check out and take off-site for up to a week.

Where: Lewiston City Library, Neill Public Library

Roku device. If there’s a show on Netflix you want to watch but you’re too cheap to buy a subscription, head to the library for a Roku device. With an internet connection and TV or computer, the device gives you access to a variety of streaming services. You’ll have to move fast though, these things don’t spend much time on library shelves.

Where: Asotin County Library, coming soon to Moscow Public Library

Mobile hotspot device. When your adventures take you deep into the Land of No Wifi, the library can help you out. A mobile hotspot device provides a wifi connection where none currently exists.

Where: Asotin County Library, coming soon to Moscow Public Library

click to enlarge The Moscow Public Library has a yarn swift that patrons can check out. - GEOFF CRIMMINS
Geoff Crimmins
The Moscow Public Library has a yarn swift that patrons can check out.

Learning and activity kits. Curious individuals of all ages can indulge their interests in any number of educational sets available at local libraries. Bonnie Bell backpacks provide tools to help kids explore things like bird watching, fishing, world cultures and more with fun and educational activities. Lewis and Clark discovery kits contain physical items related to Lewis and Clark’s journey, including blacksmith tools, botanicals, animal hides and more. Learning Opportunities Connecting Kids Experiencing Reading (LOCKER) kits for kids contain books, digital media and other items that help them explore subjects such as dance and movement, puppets and the outdoors. Great Courses provide adults with books and digital media that provide in-depth studies on subjects like cooking and world history. Voyager kits enable adults to learn skills like crochet, juggling, playing ukulele and more by providing instructions and the items needed to learn the skill.

Where: Bonnie Bell backpacks are at Whitman County Libraries, Lewis and Clark discovery kits are at Lewiston City Library, LOCKER kits and Great Courses are at Neill Public Library and Voyager kits are available at Latah County Libraries.

Toys. Kids learn by playing and local libraries make play objects available for this purpose. Play literacy kits contain books, activities and toys around a theme like money or health. Lego boxes contain a collection of Legos, an instruction booklet and a sheet to play on to minimize the chance of runaway Legos.

Where: Play literacy kits are at Lewiston City Library, Lego kits are at Neill Public Library

Kill-a-Watt meter. To find out how much energy you’re using while you watch TV while browsing memes on your phone, check out a Kill-a-Watt energy meter. The device can measure electrical consumption of small to medium electrical devices in your home and identify “phantom energy” that is used when these devices are turned off but remain plugged in.

Where: Lewiston City Library, Latah County Libraries and Whitman County Libraries.

STEM tools. Tools that help kids explore Science Technology Engineering and Math are available at local libraries. STEM bags cover subjects like math, cooking and weather using a variety of tools and activities. Edison robots teach robotics and coding. Make-kits contain STEM tools like 3D pens, robots, Makey-Makey devices and more.

Where: STEM bags are at Whitman County Libraries, Edison robot kits are at Lewiston City Library and Make-Kits are at Latah County Libraries.

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