Anne DeGrace

COLUMN: A walk through the Library of Things

Check This Out

The Library has added two new borrowables to its Library of Things, both important to our health and well-being.

Community First Health Co-op and the Nelson Star have teamed up with a host of organizations to celebrate World Health Day on Saturday, April 7. There are all kinds of ways to get active, from Zumba to Scottish Country Dancing to Pickle Ball (full schedule at The 10,000 Steps initiative challenges folks to meet that goal, and to help measure all that stepping, the Interior Health Authority has made 20 pedometers available for check-out at the Library.

It’s useful to remember that Every Day is Health Day; if you don’t wind up challenging yourself on Saturday, any day will do — the pedometers are now a permanent part of our collection.

Thanks to a generous donation from David and Laurie Knox, the Nelson Library now has two Pro Series 3 digital radon detectors that can be borrowed. Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed naturally through the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. The most common health risk associated with radon exposure is an increased risk of lung cancer.

While the Health Canada website advises that long-term measurements are optimal for accurate radon measurement, short term digital detection—especially if it’s repeated at different times of the year—can be useful in determining if further investigation, and possibly remediation, is advisable. Full instructions come with the detectors, both of which are now checked out. Let us know if you’d like to reserve one.

Most people have figured out by now that libraries have evolved beyond being warehouses of books.

People come to libraries to learn, interact, and expand their worlds through courses, programming, and special events. Books that can be borrowed are physical or digital; you can stream movies and music through our website, and learn languages, leadership, and a whole lot more. You can even fix your ’56 Chev through our Auto Repair Reference Centre online, adjusting the carburetor in a car built when computers were the stuff of science fiction.

The Nelson Public Library of Things also includes Kill-a-Watt energy meters, pocket and table magnifiers, genre eReaders pre-loaded with popular books, and for the visually impaired, Victor Readers. There are membership cards for the Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar and for Touchstones Nelson, Museum of Art and History, so you can take a cultural institution for a test drive.

To take borrowables a step further, on Thursday, April 26 at 7 p.m. people can check out a Human “Book” for a 25-minute one-on-one conversation on a wide variety of topics during our second annual Human Library. Stay tuned for this year’s titles, coming soon.

The sky really does seem to be the limit when it comes to the things you can borrow from libraries these days, from paper airplane kits to fishing poles. Gibsons Public Library, where Nelson’s Chief Librarian Tracey Therrien hailed from, had a seed library—something we’re considering as well. There are libraries that lend power tools, musical instruments, games and sports equipment, robotics kits, and more—so much that Library of Things is actually a Wikipedia entry. Yes, it’s now a Thing.

Some libraries even lend 3D printers—leading me to imagine printing a library building large enough to house all of these things, including a kennel for the Reading Buddy dogs. For now, space is this library’s biggest consideration.

Libraries are nothing if not adaptable, constantly reinventing ourselves to serve a society that can feel, at times, like a moving target. It can be challenging, to be sure—but it is always exciting. So long as we don’t initiate a python lending program, I believe I’m ready for anything.

Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week.

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