Many of us head to the local library with one thing in mind — books — but did you know there's more to the library than just stacks of reading material? Of course, many libraries also offer music, movies, audiobooks and ebooks; some have more unusual offerings like, say, fishing poles, hardware tools or even museum tickets. Check out this list of interesting items available from libraries around the country, then find out what unusual items your own local library has to offer.
1. Games. From Jenga to checkers to portable disc golf baskets, many local libraries have a wide variety of games available for loan. Take one home and let the good times roll.
2. Fishing poles. Want to try your hand at fishing but not ready to invest in your own gear? Or maybe you like to fish but don't do it often enough to justify the purchase. Your local library may have you covered. Some have poles and even tackle boxes to lend out.
3. Hardware tools. Need a circular saw? How about an indoor air quality meter? Many libraries have a collection of tools — from the standard to the unusual — that they lend out to cardholders.
4. Internet. You probably already know that you can hop on a computer at your local library to check your email. But most libraries also have wireless Internet access available to all library users — even those who don't have a card. And most also leave that wireless on even when the library is closed. So if you're traveling and need a hook up, you might be able to connect from the parking lot of the local library.
5. Art. This isn't a standard offering, but there are several libraries — from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Braddock, Pennsylvania — that allow cardholders to check out artwork, prints, posters and even sculptures for a set period of time.
7. Pets. Many libraries have started to incorporate therapy dogs into their reading programs for kids, and some also have dogs available for cardholders to pet throughout the day.
8. Museum tickets. Many libraries hand out free or discounted coupons for admission to area museums, aquariums, botanical gardens and even state parks. In some areas, you just need to show your library card to get the discount. Check with your local library to find out what's available in your area.
9. Meeting space. Many libraries have conference rooms available for meetings. These spaces may be free for cardholders to reserve or may require a small fee that is likely still less than comparable meeting space at a commercial location.
10. Kitchen tools. Need a blender? How about an odd-shaped cake pan? Your local library may just have it in stock.
11. Language lessons. Many libraries have access to free online or in-person language lessons in everything from English to Spanish to Mandarin Chinese.
12. Science tools. From telescopes to microscopes to ultraviolet lights, some libraries have a collection of science tools that you can use to get out and explore.
13. Storytime kits. Take your family storytime up a notch with a kit from your local library. Many include your kids' favorite books along with accompanying toys or other appropriate material — think a stuffed caterpillar for your child to snuggle while you read the Eric Carle classic "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."
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