Libraries go ‘beyond books’ with vinyl, kayaks, more

Kent County

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — GoPro cameras and iPads. Bicycles. Vinyl records and record players. And now, kayaks.

No, that’s not an Amazon order list. Those are the newest offerings for rent at the Grandville branch of the Kent District Library.

“We’ve really expanded our ‘Beyond the Books’ collection. We’re including more things to check out,” Maria Page, a librarian at the Grandville branch, said.

It’s all part of the KDL’s effort to offer items and experiences that many people don’t have access to, or can afford. KDL libraries continue to offer books, CDs, and movies. But library leaders realize that the patron of tomorrow will need more.

“Part of what a library is meant to do isn’t just to provide reading; it’s to provide people with access to things they might not normally experience on their own or provide an opportunity to try something for the first time,” Josh Bernstein, the Grandville branch manager, said.

That includes the newest addition at the library: full-sized, inflatable kayaks. Library leaders say they understand some residents in the area don’t have the means to tote a kayak, or may not want to spend money on one just to try. That’s where their offering comes in handy.

“We wanted to give an accessible option for people to anyone who wanted to try out a kayak. We found out there are inflatable kayaks that can just be packed up in a sizable bag, and thrown into the trunk. Anyone can travel with it pretty easily,” Page said.

The kayak rentals come with a life jacket, air pump, bag, paddle and safety information.

The KDL “Beyond Books Collection” is eclectic, including bicycles, cameras, iPads for adults and kids, Nintendo Switch consoles, ukuleles and even a green screen and umbrella light kit.

The Grandville library also has several portable vinyl players and a collection of about 150 records.

“It’s fun. It’s retro. Everything comes around again,” Bernstein said.

Some items require training videos, safety information and waiver forms.

The checkouts are free with no deposit, but items are first-come, first-served. No holds will be permitted.

The items offered at each branch differ, so it’s important to look at the KDL website to see what your local branch offers. A KDL card can allow you to rent items at locations other than your closest library.

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