In 2022, your library card gives you access to much more than the latest books, music and movies. Amid soaring inflation, one way to cut down on spending is to check out all the cool stuff your local library has to offer.
Want to try out an instrument? Look at the stars through a high-powered telescope? Test your home for radon? Just take the item to the front desk with your library card and away you go.
Want to visit a museum or aquarium for free? Just ask your local library for a pass.
Want to take a hike but don’t have any equipment? If you live in Hampton your, local library does and will be happy for you to borrow it.
From virtual reality (VR) headsets to metal detectors, gaming consoles to GoPro cameras, below are some of the items that come with your library card (besides books) at Seacoast area libraries.
If the library in your town doesn’t have the items you want to borrow, fear not.
With the Interlibrary Loan (ILL), your library can put in a request, on your behalf, to borrow specific items from other libraries.
Here’s a look at some great finds at libraries around the greater Seacoast:
Exeter Public Library
The latest addition to its services is the NH Video Game Library, a library collection of video game consoles, video games and accessories. However, through the state’s interlibrary loan system, any members from any libraries within the state are able to sign out the games and consoles.
According to Assistant Director Julia Lanter, the library offers five consoles each for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch, and a plethora of video games stored at the library.
“The video games can be checked out by anyone but for the video game consoles, you have to be 18 and up because of the user agreement that comes with the consoles,” said Lanter.
Membership is free for residents of the town. Non-residents would have to pay $70 per year for a membership, however, a membership will cover an entire family.
Wiggin Memorial Library, Stratham
The Wiggin Memorial Library, 10 Bunker Hill Ave., offers members all kinds of unexpected items to borrow.
Assistant Director Scott Campbell said one of the most borrowed items is their Stealth Cam, a motion-triggered outdoor camera, that could be used for security purposes or for when you wake up and find that your vegetable garden has been raided.
“We had a patron who was wondering what was eating the flowers and vegetables in her garden,” said Campbell. “She borrowed the Stealth Cam and found out it was a skunk.”
The library also offers radon detectors, an initiative that was started by Stratham resident Tom Jarvela after finding out his house had very elevated levels of radon. Campbell said Jarvela has been actively promoting radon detectors in libraries, and Wiggin Memorial Library is one of the few in the area to have some available to borrow.
Want to watch a movie from a DVD but don’t have a DVD or a Blu-ray player? Wiggin Memorial Library offers both.
“You can borrow a (Blu-ray player) and it even comes with an HDMI cord,” said Campbell. “You just plug it into your TV.”
The library offers free memberships for residents and property owners, and a non-resident can purchase a year membership for $70.
Portsmouth Public Library
Portsmouth Public Library, located at 175 Parrott Ave., opened its doors in 2016. It was the first municipal building within the entire state to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for its sustainability and energy conservation efforts.
With a modern building comes modern technologies that are available to be borrowed including Oculus Quests VR headsets; Bounty Hunter Tracker IV metal detectors; and GoPro HERO7 video cameras among many other items.
Library Director Christine Friese said the most popular items being borrowed includes Kindle devices as well as the Oculus Quest, with the latter having the longest waitlist so far.
However, most electronic devices, such as the Oculus Quest, can only be checked out for one week at a time. With a quick turnaround rate, it wouldn’t be a very long wait to borrow these items, said Friese.
Interested in learning how to play a new instrument? The Portsmouth Public Library also has ukuleles that are available to be borrowed for two weeks. It includes a ukulele, tuner, chord book and a case.
If you are a resident and/or own a property in Portsmouth, a library membership is free. For non-residents, memberships could be purchased either for $100 per year or $55 for six months.
Rochester Public Library
Located at 65 South Main St., Rochester Public Library is home to a plethora of visual materials such as magazines and movies to be rented out.
Not a fan of reading?
The library is equipped with Playaways, a preloaded audio book in the shape of an iPod Nano. Each device contains one book in it, said patron service supervisor Kathrine Wright.
“The great thing about it is that you don’t need any sort of device like you would with a traditional audio book where you got the CDs,” said Wright. “You can plug them into an auxiliary port in a car if you want to play it over – we put reloadable batteries in it so the batteries are always fresh.”
Although Playaways are only available for the children and teens’ section of the library at this moment, Wright said there are many options for adults, which include downloadable audio books that are available to members from a massive audiobook database.
“You don’t have to check out any physical things,” said Wright.
Memberships are free for residents of the town while non-residents have the option of $30 for a six months membership of $60 for the year.
Dover Public Library
A membership at the Dover Public Library, located at 73 Locust St., gets you free passes to some of the area’s best museums and attractions.
Reference Librarian Carolyn Tremblay said the library offers passes to 18 different museums scattered across New Hampshire and Massachusetts. These passes are available – at no cost – for members to use.
“It depends on the museums, they’re the ones that set the rules,” said Tremblay. “Some of them offer free admission, usually for multiple people, and others will give you a discount.”
Some of the museums offering passes through the library include the Museum of Science, The New England Aquarium and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Currier Museum of Arts, Castle in the Clouds and Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire.
The library also has a section called a “Conversion Lab” where members can digitize old VHS tape, said Tremblay.
All of these perks come at no cost for residents of the town while non-residents would have to pay $200 for a yearly membership.
Weeks Public Library, Greenland
Always wanted to create something on a 3D printer? Weeks Public Library, 36 Post Road in Greenland has got you covered with its Dremel 3D40 printer.
The library, which recently underwent a major expansion and renovation, now offers residents three different meeting spaces: a study room, a conference room, and a large meeting room.
Library Assistant Elaine Molleur said the library offers equipment such as telescopes as well as puzzles and movies. However, she said members often borrow their wide array of books, movies and DVDs.
The membership for Weeks Public Library is free for residents while non-residents would have to pay $50 for a year’s membership.
Lane Memorial Library, Hampton
Lane Memorial Library, 2 Academy Ave., is home to some of the most interesting items that you could borrow.
Assistant Director Stacy Mazur said the library received a telescope from the New Hampshire Astronomical Society as part of a statewide grant program, an item that many members favor when it comes to borrowing from the library.
Looking to go for a hike or camping this summer?
Lane Memorial Library also has backpacks available to be borrowed. These backpacks are equipped with basic camping/hiking tools such as a compass, a map and guides to local state parks.
“We also have backpacks in our children’s room that are mystery backpacks,” said Mazur. “They typically have a theme… a penguin backpack would have books on penguins and other animals that you would typically find in that area.”
Another donation from the state is an energy meter reader that members can borrow and monitor their energy consumption, she said.
For the interior decorator inside of you, the library has an array of paintings you could borrow, have it as a decoration for a while and switch it up when you get bored of it – it’s an endless cycle of revamping your house.
Membership for Hampton residents, property owners and town workers are free while non-residents can choose to buy a four-month membership for $20, or a yearly membership for $60.
Harvey-Mitchell Memorial Library, Epping
Located at 151 Main St., Harvey-Mitchell Memorial Library recently completed an expansion and interior makeover in early 2020 which doubled the space, said Library Director Ben Brown.
The library offers digitization options for a variety of reading materials which includes books and magazines. However, aside from books, Brown said the most commonly borrowed items are movies and TV shows in the forms of DVDs and a digital streaming service called Kanopy.
“We keep up with new releases,” said Brown. “We don’t have dozens of copies of everything like a video store would have, but we do get a couple of copies of most of the movies.”
Residents can enjoy these perks with their membership at no cost at all while non-residents would have to pay a small yearly fee of $30.