Guest Column: Library is expanding its collection offerings

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Guest Column by Annice Sevett

One of the Albert Lea Public Library’s objectives in our current strategic plan is to investigate alternative collection offerings. Libraries around the country are lending out more than the traditional materials long associated with libraries. Earlier this year, we applied for and were awarded a grant from the DNR to lend state park passes to patrons. The ongoing success of these passes demonstrates the importance of determining what materials the library could lend that meet the needs of our community.

Annice Sevett

A few months ago, the library was approached by the leaders of the Dementia Friendly Freeborn County initiative with a request to create and circulate memory kits. A memory kit is a bag filled with items designed to trigger memories and to be used as a tool for caregivers and loved ones to connect. After learning more about the initiative and memory kits in general, the Albert Lea Public Library determined that distributing these kits fills a demonstrated community need that fits into our already existing method for the circulation of materials.

Sponsored by the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce and the Southeastern Minnesota Area Agency on Aging, the Albert Lea Public Library now has six memory kits available for checkout. Each kit is centered around a theme to help caregivers and their loved ones connect to memories centered around hobbies, occupations and times of the year. The six themes available currently are: winter, spring, summer, fall, fishing and farming. The library hopes to add more themed kits in the near future.

Anyone with a library card can check out a memory kit for two weeks. Kits can be requested through our online catalog or over the phone. If you live in Freeborn County and are interested in checking out a memory kit but do not have a library card, stop into the library with proof of address (photo ID, lease/mortgage, current bill, etc.) to get a card. For individuals who live outside our county but in Minnesota, bring your library card from your home library and you can be set up in our system to check out items. The library is currently open Monday through Thursday from 9 to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

The Albert Lea Public Library is excited to have memory kits available for our community. As the library continues to serve the varied needs of our community, we hope to be able to offer more alternative collection offerings in the future, like the state park passes and the memory kits.

Annice Sevett is the director of the Albert Lea Public Library.