Thursday, July 2, 2015

Unusual Stuff to Borrow collecction: Ann Arbor District Library, Michigan

MARK: I’d been aware, since first moving to Ann Arbor about 20 years ago, that people could check out works of art though the library. I wasn’t aware until just recently, however, that you’d branched out so broadly with regard to non-traditional items. What’s been the impetus behind it?
ELI: First off, thanks for your interest in our Unusual Stuff to Borrow collection… And we love your blog!
As you noted, it all started with the art prints. The AADL has been circulating them since it was the AAPL. And the collection’s been a big success for over 35 years… Then, a few years ago, we started a circulating telescope collection in partnership with the University Lowbrow Astronomers. The demand was huge, so kept adding to it. (We now have 30 telescopes in circulation!) Then, we applied for an IEEE (Electrical Engineer’s association) grant to create a circulating collection of small synthesizers. We didn’t get the grant, but we decided to try it anyway, and established the Music Tools collection. Since then, we’ve added Science Tools, Home Tools, and Outdoor Games. And we just launched Art Tools.
MARK: What is it that’s been pushing you in this direction?
ELI: Beyond the demand we’re seeing for these collections, the strongest impetus comes right from our mission statement, which includes, “We are committed to sustaining the value of public library services for the greater Ann Arbor community through the use of traditional and innovative technologies.”
Public libraries are very good at sharing scarce objects efficiently and equitably. And a lot of commercially-produced materials are no longer very scarce. Things are moving online, and content is becoming less scarce and less valuable. But it’s going to be a long time before you can download a telescope, or a set of lawn checkers! Acquiring some of these truly scarce and unusual objects, and making them available for public usage, sustains the value of the public library, and offers a truly unique service to our cardholders.


Usage Statistics of Sports Equipment Snapshot taken on 4/2/2015

                                                        Number          In User   % In use
Tumbler Tower                                   4                     4             100%
Marble Bowl                                       5                     5             100%
Giant Checkers                                    2                     2             100%
Mini Ping Pong                                    5                     4               80%
Kubb                                                     5                     0              0%
Skittles                                                  5                     4               80%   
Rollors                                                   4                    2               50%
Two way radios                                      3                    3              100%
Metal Detector                                       4                    4              100%
Giant Dominoes                                     4                     4             100%

Science Tools | Ann Arbor District Library
Item             Number    Currently in circulation
Telescopes       28      18
Brain Kit             2         2                   100%        
Plant Kit             2         2                    100%
Sound Meter      3         0                     0%
Ocscilloscope     2        2                      100%
RF Meter             3       2                      66%
Birdcam               5        4                     80%

Microscope           7        7                    100%

 Home Tools
                                    Own  On Loan   %
Thermal Detector         7    3                 42%
Thermal Camera         5    5                  100%
Infrared Thermometer   5   2                  40%
Scanner                          8    1                12%
Energy Meter                  9    4               44%
Air Quality Meter            6   2               33%
Solar Power Pack             9   5               55%
Video Borescope           3    3                100%

Distance to Nearest Park:






 Ann Arbor Downtown Library to Liberty Plaza, a 4 minute walk.