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Think about it: What (else) can you share?

Make sure they don’t cut her hair!

That advice came this morning during a session on sharing non-traditional library items and collections here at NJLA.  Megan England of Atlantic City Free Public Library and Alia Shields of Cherry Hill Public shared their journeys, and all their resources, related to sharing creatively with communities.  They now share dolls and their stories.

American Girl dolls are popular items.  At more than $100, not every family can afford these dolls and their accessories, and some one-doll households might just be craving an overnight visitor.

The library doll kits come packed with a corresponding book and the local history connecting the doll and her time period to local history.  (A local historical society partnered to help with that part of the project.)  Megan and Alia shared how to catalog them, circulate them, manage reserves, develop loan policies, and keep them looking pretty.  They also described the roles new collections like these dolls, play in programming and  marketing.

Among the other items shared, and used internally as well,  are busy bag kits, makerkits, and Dungeon and Dragons kits.

The ladies explained that parents appreciate the grab-and-go nature of their locally prepared kits.  Parents love the speed and convenience and can avoid spending lots of time wrangling with their kids around the shelves.

Sneezles is another project in the planning stages.  A parent would be able call to request a pre-packed bag for a sick child. and the library staff would customize a kit based on the particular kid’s age and interests.  The presenters noted that they’ve invested in every kind of cleaning wipe known to man.

cataloging dolls

So, what are the other, less-icky challenges?

They included: managing the children’s expectations, the initial massive hold list for three dolls, finding appropriate and secure storage for these unusual collection additions, promoting non-traditional items, helping patrons understand new collection, and teaching folks how to use new materials–especially makerspace items

In the group share about sharing, the presenters asked folks to consider the items they already do or would most like to circulate to their communities.  Among the items suggested:

  • GoPro Cameras
  • projectors and screens
  • popcorn machines
  • pop-up tents
  • makerspace stuff: button makers, Cricut machines, makerkits
  • cake pans, cookie cutters (especially for one-occasion events like showers!)
  • musical instruments
  • juggling kits
  • museum passes
  • expert person lending
  • readers (glasses for in-house use)

While this rethinking of collection and community needs was largely a public library conversation, it got me thinking about school library possibilities.