Gather together one resourceful town Library Director, named Carley, a few natural-born people connectors and diverse volunteer network committed to creating a healthy community and what do you get? An innovative lending library choc-a-block full of free on-loan sport and recreation equipment, and household items for community members of all ages, abilities and means. Introducing the Library of Things!  

The Library of Things illustrates how a desire to make a difference, alongside a collaborative and diverse group of people tapping into local assets can bring lasting value to a community where people live, work, learn, play and age.

The Plan

Witnessing her library staff’s daily encounter with patrons living on limited incomes motivated Carley to find ways to make leisure, learning and recreation activities more accessible for all. She was also inspired by other Alberta libraries that had developed various creative collections -beyond traditional print resources - to support physical literacy and movement. Loaning equipment and other items at no-cost would remove a significant financial barrier for many individuals and families. Libraries exist to connect citizens with the resources and information they need. Carley saw a perfect fit between the values of equity and inclusion, and a no-cost lending library.  But a project of this sort wasn’t something she could pull off alone.

Enter the Hanna Wellness Network (HWN)! Hanna is one of 20 rural communities across Alberta participating in the Alberta Healthy Communities Initiative. Their Network - of local citizens, organizations and businesses came together in 2019 under the AHCI. And got right down to work.

 Remember those natural born connectors? On top their positions with the local library board, Melanie and Gwen were also members of the Hanna Wellness Network. Familiar with the idea, they linked Carley to the Network to learn more about its broader work and vision -including the Network’s recent activities to understand the community better. Carley happily pitched her lending library idea. She sensed a perfect fit between the library, and the Network’s priorities. The Network loved it! Having completed a series of assessments, including identifying local assets and opportunities, the lending library aligned seamlessly with the Network’s focus on creating spaces and places to encourage physical activity and social connections.

And the rest is history! The HWN generously funded the purchase of needed sports and recreation equipment, as well as baking supplies. Everything from physical literacy kits for children to balls and hoops designed to foster strength, balance, and falls prevention among older adults. The Library covered cataloging and storing the collection.

The Outcomes

Since its recent launch, The Library of Things has experienced tremendous uptake by the community! Patrons can now access items that were formerly out-of-reach, try new activities, get outside and play together. Through collaboration, partnership, hard work, and by applying the Alberta Healthy Community Approach, the community of Hanna came together to achieve a unique project with lasting benefits for all.   

The Library of Things illustrates how a desire to make a difference, alongside a collaborative and diverse group of people tapping into local assets can bring lasting value to a community where people live, work, learn, play and age.

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