Beyond the books, Albert Lea library offering adventures for check-out

Published 4:39 pm Thursday, January 27, 2022

As libraries across Minnesota expand their offerings beyond traditional books, the Albert Lea Public Library is adding unique packages that combine reading with experiences. Called “discovery kits,” they’re designed to pique adult and youth interest in new activities, including star-gazing and game-playing.

Annice Sevett, library director, and Patty Greibrok, children’s librarian, developed the kits to provide lifelong learning opportunities through hands-on materials. While the kits offer fun activities, they also offer some serious learning. Hands-on learning has many benefits, including engaging multiple areas of the brain and offering opportunities for developing and practicing problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

The 11 kits are unique in the Southeastern Libraries Cooperating system, which provides services and support to libraries in 11 counties in southeast Minnesota. While some libraries offer learning kits and some equipment for check-out, Albert Lea is the only one to offer complete kits for experiences, some of them ideal for cozy nights at home and others for venturing out:

  • Star-gazing for adults with a telescope, accessories and guide
  • Bird-watching for adults and for youth, including binoculars and birding guides
  • Hiking for kids with two guides, a compass, magnifying glass and scavenger game
  • Card games, a total of six, including Uno and Cribbage
  • Classic board games, a total for four, including Sorry, the game of sweet revenge, and Chutes and Ladders, an up and down experience for preschoolers
  • Crocheting for kids, knitting for kids and knitting for adults, with each kit providing a guide and a variety of needles. Note: Patrons need to provide the yarn
  • Science for kids, complete with two guides, a microscope and cool things to study under the microscope

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The library also offers state park passes for check-out, offering ideal settings for the bird-watching and hiking kits, including Myre-Big Island State Park in rural Albert Lea.

“Libraries across the country are expanding from only traditional materials to educational kits that provide lifelong learning opportunities. These materials help community members build new skills and learn about new subjects with hands-on materials to aid in learning,” Sevett said.

An Albert Lea library card — available at no charge to all residents in Freeborn County — is needed to check out the kits. The library, at 221 E. Clark St., is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Friday and Sunday. For more information about the library, visit https://alplonline.org.