Beyond Books: Ramsdell Library to House ‘Library of Things’

Great Barrington, Mass. – July 25, 2019 – Do you ever wish you could borrow a digital video camera –without having to buy it? How about a podcasting kit? A tapestry loom, a glue gun or a sewing machine? Want to learn jewelry making, woodworking or make some candles for the holidays?

Soon, you can: a new “Library of Things” at Great Barrington’s Ramsdell Library in Housatonic will soon be lending these items and more. And Ramsdell will expand its programming with more free workshops and classes.

Stretching well beyond book and video lending, and now the recipient of a one-year grant of $9,624 from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioner’s Library Services and Technology (LSTA), Great Barrington Libraries has designated Ramsdell to collect, manage and lend these “things” to meet a wider range of creative interests and household needs. The grant for the “Housatonic Creates!” program lasts for one year.

The initiative follows a 2018 consulting study of the Great Barrington Libraries, which examined lending trends, socio-economic factors and community program interests. Great Barrington is home to both Mason Library, in downtown Great Barrington, and Ramsdell, in the Housatonic village.

“The Library of Things will include tools, materials, creative kits and more – all of which will be available to borrow, just like books,” said Great Barrington Libraries Director Amanda DeGeorgis. “We are also going to be adding creative programs and workshops, without charge, and we will encourage community members to lead programs. Housatonic is home to many artists and craftspeople who are eager to share their talents.”

DeGeorgis said the collection of tools, technology items and “maker kits” will be acquired through donations and purchases. Great Barrington Libraries patrons will be able to “check out” items as they would a book or video.

Among the project lending kits are jewelry making kits, a felting kit, and kits for crochet, bookmaking, papermaking, fabric painting and baking. The library will lend a VR headset, digital camera, video camera, sewing machines, a tapestry loom and more. Programs in the planning stages include self-publishing, code gaming, beginner sewing, embroidery, weaving, knitting and other fiber arts.

Patrons will be able to browse online for “things” and workshops on the library website as they would for books, and print copies of the new library initiative will be available at both libraries.

Funding will be available for the program in October, and items will be acquired in time for a January 2020 open house event at Ramsdell Library.

Talya Leodari, one of the libraries’ assistant directors, and DeGeorgis will share oversight of the new Library of Things.

And where will the “things” be stored?

On the shelves, just like the books.