GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Glen Ridge Public Library’s Library of Things started to come together at the beginning of March 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shut the building down. But since operations have looked closer to normal than they did at the height of the pandemic, the 74 items on shelves in the library have been flying off those shelves.
The Library of Things offers residents with a Glen Ridge library card a chance to check out musical instruments, video game consoles, board games and other items along with their books. Library Director Jennifer Breuer said the things have been checked out more than 700 times in total.
“It’s where the lending model is going,” Breuer said in a phone interview with The Glen Ridge Paper on Oct. 8. “It’s good for reuse and cutting down on waste, or trying something out before deciding to buy it. It’s good for the sharing economy.”
Included in the collection is a 17-foot outdoor blowup screen, an acoustic guitar, a blood pressure monitor, a coin counter, a digital film and slide scanner, and a metal detector. The blowup screen and metal detector, along with a power washer, are among the most popular things. All of the items were purchased from the library’s materials budget, and Breuer tried to cater to the community as much as possible.
“Other libraries with collections are in towns with a lot of lakes, so they loan fishing poles,” she said. “Some are in places where it snows a lot, so they loan snowshoes. Our biggest challenge is that we don’t have as much space as we want.”
Two items at a time can be checked out per library card holder, for seven days each. Kindles and internet hotspots can be checked out for 14 days. The collection can be browsed at the library just like anything else that is able to be checked out. It can be browsed online as well at www.glenridgelibrary.org.
The GRPL is the first library in the state that has two pairs of EnChroma color-blind glasses, one in a child’s size and one in an adult size. The glasses have lenses that correct color blindness when worn. They’ve been checked out of the collection a few times.
“Someone checked them out, and when he returned them, he was saying, ‘I had no idea grass is so many different shades of green,’” Breuer said.
Also popular are the gaming systems; the Atari Flashback Gold, Nintendo Classic, Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo are versions of the original consoles that have games preinstalled on them and plug into a television with an HDMI cable.
“People of a certain age have a lot of nostalgia with them,” Breuer said. “People in their 40s will say, ‘I can play Super Mario with my kids!’”
The library staff is always thinking about what other things to add to the collection. They want more outdoor games to join the badminton, cornhole, ring toss and horseshoes sets on the shelves. They also want to add solar-powered rechargeable batteries for people to check out if there is a power outage. Suggestions are always welcome.
“People are surprised we have it, but then we explain and it makes sense,” Breuer said. “People can make suggestions for things they’re looking for but might not have access to, just like if they were looking for a book or author we don’t have. We try to get it for them.”
Photos Courtesy of Jennifer Breuer