Sacramento libraries go way beyond books

Lori Eastwood of the Sacramento Library shows a sewing machine that will be available for loan through the “Library of Things.”
Lori Eastwood of the Sacramento Library shows a sewing machine that will be available for loan through the “Library of Things.” egarrison@sacbee.com

Last June, Sacramentans turned out for city libraries, voting overwhelmingly to dig into their pockets for $12 more a year per single-family home to help the city’s library system continue to provide quality services.

And now Sacramento Public Library is turning out for Sacramentans by finding new ways to be relevant in the 21st century.

The proposal for the “Library of Things” that Sacramento Bee reporter Ellen Garrison wrote about Monday is one such example. Once this program launches, it will allow patrons to check out a variety of things that are not books, from tools to technology, at a central location at the Arcade branch.

Which things will be included in the library is up to the public. Suggestions and voting on items is now underway on the library’s website www.saclibrary.org. It will continue through next week.

So far, the suggestions have ranged from whimsical – motion-action wildlife cameras, a turkey fryer and a Nespresso machine – to practical – digital cameras, printers, scanners and sewing machines. Someone even suggested a drone.

Although this program, and the library’s other new program, Career Online High School, are both funded by grants, Measure B was certainly a factor. Library Director Rivkah Sass said the $2 million in additional funding made the system whole from past budget cuts and added a certain level of financial stability. That means librarians can spend more time thinking about how to be a library of the future and less time worrying about how to pay for the library services of today.

We think the Library of Things is a wonderful idea, so far as it includes sufficient measures to keep the equipment from being destroyed or misused. Technology is not cheap.

There are so many smart suggestions already for the things library, and we’d like add our vote for musical instruments. The reduction in arts curricula in public schools means that so many students don’t have access to music.

We’d also like to see the Library of Things concept expanded to other branches, if it succeeds at the Arcade branch.

This is part of a larger evolution of public libraries into community centers that offer services, materials and collections way beyond books. Sacramentans can be proud their libraries are taking an active role in shaping that future.