North Baltimore Public Library Director Holly Emahiser Ryder is shown with a Yardzee (like Yahtzee, but larger) set, available for loan as part of the library’s growing Creative Collection. The library is seeking public input on nontraditional items they would like to see included in the collection, such as kitchen items, party supplies and more. (Photo by Jeannie Wiley Wolf)

By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF

Staff Writer

NORTH BALTIMORE — What do a life-sized Jenga game, a basketball and a disc golf set have in common? You can borrow all these items from the North Baltimore Public Library.

A new group of pieces — called the Creative Collection — can be checked out from the library, along with the more traditional books, magazines and DVDs.

The nontraditional collection has been in the works for about a year. It all started, said library director Holly Emahiser Ryder, when a patron called and asked if the library had items available for loan similar to Way Public Library in Perrysburg. (That collection began with a batch of commercial cake pans and has grown to several hundred pieces that range from a telescope to a steel tongue drum to a sewing machine, according to the Way library’s website.)

Then at a meeting of area librarians, Way library director Janel Haas talked about Perrysburg’s Beyond Books collection.

“I’m like, ‘that’s amazing,’ said Ryder. “They really had a lot to offer their patrons. And I thought, ‘Well, maybe we could get in on that.'”

She said area librarians often share ideas.

“In northwest Ohio, there’s so many great libraries, we’re so fortunate. You can get so many great ideas from the different libraries,” said Ryder. “When you have great libraries, the communities can build around that, and libraries can build around their communities.”

She said memorial funds from two young people from the community who died last year — Drew Riser, 25, who died in May, and Tom Bisbee, 27, who died in June — were used to start the collection.

“Some people said we could do books or whatever the library would like,” Ryder explained. “So in honor of these two young guys, we did these outdoor games, because they were outdoorsy, adventurous guys.”

The collection so far includes five backyard games: Yardzee (like Yahtzee, but larger), a youth-sized basketball, yard Jenga, ladder golf and a disc golf set.

Ryder pointed out the North Baltimore village park has a nine-hole disc golf course.

“We thought that way, kids could try out disc golf. They don’t have to go buy a set. They can come rent it from the library, go try it with their friends, and return it when they’re all done playing,” she said.

The library wants to know what other kinds of items patrons would like to see added to the collection.

“We’ve heard a giant roaster so when you have parties, you don’t want to store it for one or two times a year. So we’re going to get a roaster this year, a stud finder, and a blood pressure cuff was suggested, too,” she said. “Those are things you don’t think about until somebody says, ‘Oh, I’d like to have this at the library.'”

Creative Collection is a local collection, Ryder noted, which means borrowers must be 18 or older and have a valid North Baltimore library card. Items in the collection will not be sent out to other libraries, but must be picked up and returned to the library at 230 N. Main St. Items may be borrowed for seven days.

“We will probably have the newest items out on display and keep them behind the desk,” said Ryder. “We have started a catalog of what we’ll have, and that will eventually be on the website.”

Monetary donations are being accepted to help add pieces to the collection.

“They should let us know what they’re thinking and then we can talk about it,” she said. “Maybe instead of a roaster we need Crock Pots or something like that. We are going to get more of the yard games. We’ve been making room in our storage areas to store some of these bigger items.”

Ryder said she’s not sure how the collection will evolve, “but we’re really excited about it. It’s really going to depend on what our patrons want, so we’re really looking for the input on what they’d like to see.”

“So if it’s the roaster and party supplies, we’ll go that route. Or if it’s metal detectors, we’ll go there. We’ll just adapt to what they’re wanting. That’s what we try to do with all of our collections.”

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