Sphero SPRK+ is an app-enabled robotic ball made by the same company that created the BB-8 droid for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Members of the Fraser Valley Regional Library can now check one out, free of charge, for a two- or three-week period. (Bryan Rowe/Sphero photo)

Sphero SPRK+ is an app-enabled robotic ball made by the same company that created the BB-8 droid for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Members of the Fraser Valley Regional Library can now check one out, free of charge, for a two- or three-week period. (Bryan Rowe/Sphero photo)

COLUMN: Today’s libraries are about more than just books

From ukuleles to little robots and social services, libraries have tons of things to offer

By Frances Thomson, Fraser Valley Regional Library

There are certain things you expect to find in a public library: books, magazines and newspapers. There are also the “non-book” items like DVDs and CDs. However, if you have not been to the library in a while, some things might surprise you.

Did you know that you could borrow a ukulele from the Fraser Valley Regional Library? In the fall of 2016, the library partnered with the Coquitlam Ukulele and Tiny Instrument Enthusiasts (CUTIE) Circle to introduce a collection of Uke ‘n Play kits. Each kit includes a ukulele, a soft case, digital tuner and beginner ukulele book. Music is alive and well in our libraries with our CD collection, as well as online streaming audio and sheet music through Naxos.

Recently, FVRL added Sphero SPRK+ robotic balls to its collection. The robot toy is a clear plastic orb, capable of rolling around and changing colours, that is controlled via smartphone or tablet. Programming the device to perform specific actions through drag and drop coding supports science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Libraries lending “things” is not a new concept. As far back as the early 20th century, many public libraries had framed art available for borrowing. In the 1980s, I worked at a library that had Polaroid cameras for loan.

With the growth of the sharing economy, more libraries are adding non-traditional items to their collections, lending cake pans, blenders, sewing machines, lawn mowers, snowshoes, bird watching kits, croquet sets, and bicycles, among other things.

Children who live in Reading, Mass. may borrow a lemonade stand kit from the local public library, while an iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaning robot is available for adults.

Residents of Anchorage, Ala. who need a polar bear fur or stuffed puffin may borrow such items from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Their mounted snowy owls are popular for Harry Potter parties.

Vancouver Public Library and Toronto Public Library introduced musical instruments for borrowing in 2016. Their collections include drums of various kinds, stringed instruments and keyboards.

Collections are not the only things changing in libraries; services are changing too. The Edmonton Public Library has social workers on staff, providing outreach to the homeless. A library in Arizona has a public health nurse on site. The George Mackie Library provides space for settlement workers from the Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society to meet clients for whom the library is a more convenient location than the office.

Thanks to the Delta Food Coalition, the George Mackie Library is one of several distribution points for bread from Monte Cristo Bakery. The bakery approached Deltassist to distribute its weekly bread overages of artisan breads and cakes. Monte Cristo’s generosity has grown so much that the bread is now available at several locations in North Delta. The library is also a drop-off point for excess produce (mainly tomatoes) from greenhouses in Delta.

Library collections and services are constantly changing. Drop in and see for yourself.

Frances Thomson is the community librarian at the George Mackie Library. For more information about books and events at the library, visit fvrl.bc.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Delta Fire unveiled its new mascot, Flash, this week at North Delta’s Cougar Canyon Elementary School with Grade 2 student Theo Wong, who won pizza for his entire class for submitting the mascot’s name. (Submitted photo)
PHOTOS: Delta fire debuts new mascot

‘Flash’ presented a class at North Delta’s Cougar Canyon Elementary with a pizza lunch

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
OUR VIEW: We expect integrity from leaders

Is it too much to ask that conflict related to the city’s business be met on the battleground of fact?

Despite rumours, Surrey RCMP say they are not issuing tickets to people if they are driving in a vehicle with others from a different household. (File photo)
Rumours of vehicle-occupant address checks untrue, say Surrey RCMP

COVID-19 enforcement about education, says Cpl. Joanie Sidhu

(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of Nov. 16

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

Hardeep Singh Sahota, the director of Royal Academy of Bhangra in Surrey, says there’s lots of confusion around the temporary closure of dance studios. He’s pictured in the empty studio, which shows spaced out dance areas, on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
‘Temporary’ closure causing confusion for Surrey dance studio

Bhangra academy director says studios need more guidance from healh authorities

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Chilliwack school board trustee Barry Neufeld is taking heat over using a ableist slur to refer to three Black Press employees. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)
BC School Trustees Association president keeps heat on Chilliwack Trustee Barry Neufeld

In a news release, Stephanie Higginson called on voters to take careful note of Neufeld’s behaviour

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

School District 27 announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 this week (Nov. 23) at Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Entire gym class at northern B.C. high school isolating after confirmed COVID case

Contact tracing by Interior Health led to the quarantine

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

Most Read