TEMPLE TERRACE — Desiree Acevedo is a frequent patron of the Temple Terrace Public Library.
You'll often find her there on Wednesday mornings pushing a stroller carrying her young daughter, whom she usually brings to the weekly story time program for preschoolers.
She also makes a point of regularly browsing the aisles of the children's section of the library in search of books that might appeal to her two 7-year-old sons.
On her way out the door a few days ago, Acevedo's eyes happened to spot a new display behind the library's help desk/check-out counter.
She stopped in her tracks to take a closer look, never expecting to find what she did — a used Scrabble game, among other board games, plus an assortment of other recycled items — available to borrow at no cost by simply showing a library card.
"I'm so glad I saw it and asked about it because I ended up taking home the Scrabble game," Acevedo said. "The boys really had fun with it, and it helped with their reading. I plan to check it out again."
The new Beyond Books Lending Library, as it's called, is a recently created niche within the Temple Terrace library featuring a variety of household items. All were donated by community members with a goal of putting them in the hands of many more users.
It is the brainchild of library director Teressa Fraser.
"As a librarian I'm always looking at what other libraries across the world are doing … and I saw that one was checking out men's ties for job interviews," said Fraser, who decided to take the concept of lending articles of use besides books a few steps further.
The Temple Terrace library is now a place where, in addition to borrowing a sci-fi novel or biography about a noted political figure, you also can check out a Buzz Lightyear or a Dora the Explorer cake pan. Or you can choose from a collection of similar items used to bake cakes for special occasions.
It's also where you have access to a fondue set, a sewing machine, knitting and crocheting kits complete with how-to DVDs, an iron, an electric engraving kit, a telling time puzzle, booster cables, an electric drill and more.
"This effort has really taken off, basically by word of mouth," said Fraser, who noted it is the first-of-its kind "library of things" among the county's more than two dozen public libraries.
The beauty of the library of things, she said, is that it lends varied items — up to seven days — to people who can't afford to purchase the items or don't want to pay for something they'll only use once or occasionally.
Another positive aspect from Fraser's perspective is that no funds from the library's budget were used to create the collection, including a binder with images and descriptions.
"Everything has been donated, and Publix gave us cash to buy plastic containers to put things in," Fraser said.
She welcomes more donations, provided they are in good condition and contain all the necessary parts. The library will not accept overly large objects or those that require fuel or batteries.
Fraser's wish list includes more kitchen gadgets and appliances, video games, small musical instruments, screw drivers of various kinds, pliers, wrenches, stud finders, levels and tool boxes.
Anyone living within Hillsborough County who has a library card is welcome to take advantage of the Temple Terrace library's new service. The only stipulations are that things be returned to the same location, 202 Bullard Parkway, within seven days and in good condition. If late, there is a $1 per day fine and if damaged, the borrower may be charged for the value of the item.
Sandy Cummings, a member of the Friends of the Temple Terrace Library, watched the endeavor unfold, being that she often volunteers in the library's Book Nook, an alcove near the library's entrance where donated high-quality used books are for sale at bargain prices.
When she spotted the knitting kit — complete with yarn, knitting needles and instructions — she opted to take advantage of the opportunity to try a craft she's always thought would be a fun thing to do.
"It seemed like a convenient and cost-free way to learn," Cummings said. "I want to learn how to make a hat, so I'll check it out again."
Contact Joyce McKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org.