Public libraries are pretty cool places.
Not only do they let you borrow books, DVDs, video games and e-books or access the internet for free, but many libraries around Wichita have expanded their collections to include some unusual items.
Like cake pans. And fishing poles. And costumes. And plug-in energy meters.
“We’re one of the last holdouts of free spaces, where you’re not expected to buy anything,” said Katherine Williams, library support specialist for the South Central Kansas Library System, a network of libraries in 12 counties around Wichita.
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“We’re community spaces, and so . . . libraries are always looking for ways they can serve their communities.”
At the Andover Public Library, patrons can check out more than 80 shaped cake pans — Batman, Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney, ladybugs, footballs, Easter bunnies and more — bake and decorate a cake, have their get-together and return the pan within three weeks.
“It’s great for kids’ birthday parties because we have a lot of the popular characters, and you can change it up year to year for no cost,” said Tom Taylor, director of the Andover library.
“When I was a boy I had a Darth Vader cake every year, because that’s the pan my mother had.”
You don’t have to live in Andover to use the library, Taylor said. Anyone living in the area served by south-central Kansas system can apply for a card and borrow items from member libraries.
Here are some of the items available from Wichita-area libraries. Know of others? Call us at 316-268-6567, and we’ll update the list:
Andover Public Library — Cake pans, sewing machines, board games (including classics and more unusual European strategy games).
Clearwater Public Library — Knitting looms.
Hesston Public Library — Binoculars, board games, fishing poles.
Lindsborg Community Library — Fishing poles.
Valley Center Public Library — Fishing poles. (First-time borrowers also get a tackle box with basic supplies and a set of cards with information about native fish.)
Wellington Public Library — Board games.
Whitewater Memorial Library — Costumes (a large variety for all ages and sizes), cake pans, reading glasses (for use while inside the library), yard games.