Money

Actions

10 things you didn’t know you could borrow from your local library

Beyond the standard items such as magazines, CDs and DVDs, some public libraries offer things like tools, instruments, and art supplies to borrow.
A person walks past shelves of books in a library.
Posted at 4:48 PM, Jan 30, 2023

In addition to lending books, public libraries often provide access to computers, tutoring and mentoring programs, and even music or art lessons. By providing free services such as lectures, writing workshops and movie screenings, public libraries ensure everyone has access to enriching experiences.

But did you know that many public libraries will lend you more than just books? Beyond the standard items such as magazines, CDs and DVDs, some public libraries offer an incredible variety of exciting things to take home. From video games to musical instruments and educational activity kits, you may be surprised by what you can borrow.

Many communities also have lending libraries for a specific category of goods, such as tools, that can help you complete home and gardening projects without having to buy and store expensive tools.

Take a look at these items you just might be able to borrow without spending a dime.

Art Supplies

Kyle Robertson / Columbus Dispatch via AP

Some libraries offer art supplies such as paints, brushes and canvases. With the help of public libraries, access to art supplies is easier than ever before. In addition, libraries often have loan policies that allow users to borrow items for a certain amount of time at no cost. Some also provide kits for seasonal art projects you can take home and complete. This is an excellent way for aspiring artists, budding enthusiasts or creative types to explore their interests without making a significant investment. 

Artwork

Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP

In addition to offering art supplies, some libraries loan works of art. Art lending libraries work like any other library. You can borrow artwork, enjoy it in your home and return it by its due date. In addition, many libraries offer a wide variety of pieces from local artists that can be borrowed with a library card. 

Board Games and Puzzles

Thomas Kienzle / AP

Many libraries have hundreds of board games and puzzles available, making it easy to find something that everyone in the family will enjoy. Libraries will often offer special events such as game nights or puzzle swaps, allowing patrons to come together and share their love of gaming. This is an excellent way for families to save money. Plus, it enables everyone to experience the fun of trying something new without any commitment or investment.

Cooking Supplies

Liz Hafalia / San Francisco Chronicle via AP

From cake pans and standing blenders to Instant Pots and ice cream makers, libraries across the country are stocking their shelves with kitchen gadgets that can be checked out for free. This is a great way for people to try out new appliances without purchasing them or taking up valuable storage space in their homes. In addition, with the help of these lending libraries, home cooks can experiment with different recipes and techniques.

The West Branch Library in West Branch, Iowa, recently tweeted about holiday-themed cooking supplies available to borrow.

Garden Tools

Lee Reich / AP

Many public libraries have begun offering garden tools such as trowels, shovels, pruners and post-hole diggers for loan. Some libraries even provide gardening kits with seeds and other materials needed to start a garden. By providing these resources, public libraries are helping to reduce cost-related barriers to home improvements and encouraging people to engage in projects such as community gardening. 

Musical Instruments

Ted S. Warren / AP

With a library card, patrons can check out instruments such as electric guitars, violins and drums for a period of time. Most instrument rentals include not only the instrument itself but also all necessary accessories, such as cases, bows, mutes, stands and more. This is a great way to explore creativity and try out new skills without buying expensive instruments.

Tools

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Many public libraries now offer tool lending programs, which allow members to borrow items such as hammers, saws, drills and other tools at no cost. Tool lending libraries provide an accessible alternative to owning expensive equipment, allowing people to save money while still completing their projects. With the help of these libraries, DIYers can easily find the tools they need without having to purchase them outright.

Check Local Tools to find a tool lending library near you.

Toys

Jeff Chiu / AP

Toy-lending libraries allow parents, grandparents and caregivers to extend learning and play at home without breaking the bank. The Los Angeles County Toy Loan Program is the nation's oldest and largest free toy library, where "toybrarians" have been helping children check out toys since 1935. Through these programs, families can check out up to five toys at a time to take home and enjoy. The US Toy Library Association can help you find a location near you.

Wi-Fi Hotspots

Bob Child / AP

Public libraries across the U.S. are now offering Wi-Fi hotspots for checkout. This service provides internet access to families and library patrons who don't have a reliable connection at home. The hotspots are easy to use and allow users to connect their laptop, tablet, and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices to the internet.

The Brentwood Public Library in Brentwood, New York, shared this tweet about the free hotspots it offers.

3D Printers

Cedar Attanasio / AP

The next time you need something, be sure to check your local library's website or give them a call to see what unique items they have available for borrowing — or look for a lending library for what you need in your area. From cake pans to ukuleles, there's no telling what you might find. And who knows, maybe you'll discover a new hobby in the process!

10 Things You Should Rent Rather Than Buy

10 Things You Should Rent Rather Than Buy

When it comes to renting vs. buying, one key thing to keep in mind is that high-cost items that get limited use aren't always worth the investment.

LEARN MORE