Want to learn how to play ghost hunt or play pickleball? Library’s discovery kits expand

Published 6:49 am Friday, July 28, 2023

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More discovery kits are available at the Albert Lea Public Library. Discovery kits contain items on a particular topic or hobby.

“A lot of libraries lent either kits similar to what we have or what we would call a library of things,” said Annice Sevett, director for the Albert Lea Public Library. “They might borrow just one board game, or they might borrow a tool that someone might need but doesn’t need to purchase.

“But we really wanted to provide more of a learning experience rather than just one item.”

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In assembling them, the library researched what kits would potentially be beneficial — including seeing what other libraries were doing as well as examining what was popular in the area.

Each kit contains a book or two (or some type of print resource) along with activities to accompany the book to facilitate hands-on learning.

New kits include croquet, disc golf, fossils and rocks, ghost hunting, horseshoes, magic, pickleball, preschool puzzles, a science kit and a kit for strategy games.

“The library recognizes that hands-on learning is an important part of development for children and adults,” she said. “… In order to just kind of facilitate that and also give people an introduction to different hobbies, different activities, that they may not try out because of the barrier of cost to some of the equipment.”

According to Sevett, the kits have been around since last year, and each kit was assembled in a carrying case with equipment the library purchased.

“Discovery kits are just meant to be a tool for individuals to do hands-on learning and discover activities that they may not be able to do, or they may not have the equipment to do,” she said.

Kits are designed for people of all ages and different interests.

New active kits, including croquet, horseshoes, disc golf and pickleball, were designed specifically to be able to be enjoyed by the whole family. Any of the 22 kits not already checked out are available for check out any time of the year. Besides the new ones, there are two birdwatching kits (one for adults, the other for children), a card games kit, a classic board games kit, crochet kits for adults and children, hiking for kids, knitting kits for adults and children, a science for kids kit and two telescope kits.

She said the kits, which have been available for over a year, have proven popular, especially in the summer.

There are also plans to expand the collection in the future, especially as they receive feedback.

Anyone who is a member of the Albert Lea Public Library can check out a kit, and there are no late fees (though they’ll charge fees if an item is damaged/broken). Anyone with an idea for a kit is encouraged to contact library staff.

According to Sevett, discovery kits were something they had considered prior to the pandemic when the library was either closed or had limited hours.