Wednesday, April 6, is National Library Outreach Day, formerly known as National Bookmobile Day, celebrating the work of library professionals looking for new ways to engage the public. Some of their key innovations include bringing library resources out into the community, and making libraries more enticing and exciting.

Around the world, libraries are expanding their offerings beyond books. We are already accustomed to seeing CDs, DVDs, jigsaw puzzles, and games, but what if you could borrow computers or tablets for home use? How about Wi-Fi hotspots? They’re increasingly available at libraries across America.

Some libraries now offer “seed libraries” where folks can obtain seeds and borrow gardening tools (and join a Facebook group to share gardening tips.) Libraries are also loaning out power tools, musical instruments, even snowshoes! In Finland, you can even rent a rowboat from the library (it’s stored at the beach, not the library, but still…)

If it’s portable, and if it can make life better for people, it might soon be found at a library, available to the public. Items can be loaned to individuals, families, and teachers. With all the interest in teaching kids to code for computers, the limiting factor is often the physical technology. Now coding test materials from Chromebooks and tablets to robots can be loaned out to a classroom.

Some items can be true life savers. In Las Vegas, libraries are experimenting with lending out mobile phones for patrons facing homelessness. In Peterborough Ontario, libraries are now offering portable carbon monoxide monitors so residents can check conditions in their homes.

It’s been said that “if you can put a barcode on it, you can catalog it.” We look forward to seeing how this theory can be tested here in Brunswick County!