Unusual items to borrow at PT public library

Melody Sky Eisler, PT Public Library
Posted 4/24/18

The approach of summer is the perfect time to try something new.Follow Dr. Seuss’ advice, “If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.”For starters, visit the public …

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Unusual items to borrow at PT public library


The approach of summer is the perfect time to try something new.

Follow Dr. Seuss’ advice, “If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.”

For starters, visit the public libraries to check out things like a flower-shaped cake pan, knitting kit, adventure backpack, telescope, on-board diagnostics car scanner, even a guitar.

After all, May is Creative Beginnings Month.

Did you know the Port Townsend Public and the Jefferson County libraries offer more materials than a person might expect from a library?

More than books, music, movies and magazines? The Port Townsend Public Library has a whole collection of unusual items to borrow, including objects for creating, exploring and playing with when checked out. Libraries all over the country and the world are reinventing themselves by checking out everything from art to tools, wireless hot spots to seeds, musical instruments to filmmaking equipment. Check out this infographic: tinyurl.com/jnvbxhw.

The purpose of the Port Townsend Public Library’s Unusual Items collection is to give people access to materials they might not own, and it can open doors to new experiences.

When considering items for this collection, the library looks for things that may cost too much to buy or people may not need all the time. The items support the library’s mission to encourage “a lifelong love of reading and learning and (support) the quest for knowledge, creativity and adventure.”

Many of the items are purchased through the generous support of the Friends of the Port Townsend Library.

This year, for example, I resolved to learn how to sew.

With my first niece on the way, I’ve been inspired to create a baby quilt. I began by checking out one of the library’s sewing machines, a few how-to quilt books and instructional DVDs.

Then I went to sewing classes at a fabric store and started attending the library’s twice-monthly Fiber Arts Night. This regular evening event brings fiber artists together to work on projects and share tips and tricks. Had it not been for the availability of a sewing machine and the library group’s encouragement, my dream of a baby quilt might have gone unfulfilled.

Next, if I want to make my creations high tech, I can go to the Jefferson County Library and use its learning database Lynda.com to make wearable electronics. Designed for learning at a person’s own pace, this website hosts thousands of online video courses led by experts on web design, software development, photography, business skills, graphic design, video editing and more. Imagine what aspiring artists could learn using this resource for free, thanks to the Jefferson County Library. To access Lynda.com, you must have a library card and go through the Jefferson County Library website at jclibrary.info.

If someone would rather get outside, they could take the lead from a friend of mine.

Resolved to make 2018 her big year – during which she aims to see as many birds as possible – my friend checked out our trail maps and an adventure backpack, complete with local birding guides and binoculars. Later this summer, I will go backpacking with my partner and dogs in the Olympic Mountains and check out the library’s BearVault (a bear-resistant food canister now required for camping and backpacking in Olympic National Park).

The best part is we have the items only when we need them and don’t have to buy extra gear.

People can even explore the night sky with the library’s Orion StarBlast telescope. Or check out a beginner’s embroidery kit or a Sizzix paper-cutting machine with shape-sculpting dies to make beautiful holiday creations for loved ones this year. The libraries welcome suggestions for future items, so please share ideas with library staff. To learn more, visit our website at ptpubliclibrary.org.

Let’s all set a goal to learn something new this summer, starting with checking out an unusual item from the library.


Melody Sky Eisler is the library director for the Port Townsend Public Library. Her favorite book is “A Wrinkle in Time,” which she rereads every 10 years. She also loves to hike, make art and travel. Contact her at meisler@cityofpt.us.


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