Students now can check out more than books and laptops at Spokane Community College’s library. Musical instruments, cake decorating kits, household items, board games and more are now available at the Library of Things.
The new section of the library is hosting a grand opening on Oct. 4, 9:30 a.m. in the SCC library, Building 16, 1810 N Greene Street.
The idea for a college library that checks out a variety of items came from librarian Linda Keys. “Every interaction is an opportunity to help students,” she says. “We have learned that even small barriers in real life can impact students’ academic lives.”
She cites, for example, a single mom in the baking program who can’t afford all the kitchen tools that are available at the college. “We are going to let students like her check out, for free, a fondant kit so she can practice at home. She doesn’t have be at school after hours and doesn’t have to figure out child care.”
Some things in the library are not related to academics but might be fun for students to try and to share with their families, like board games. Keys sees it as a way to create community and improve retention for students by supporting all aspects of their lives. “If they make one connection at school, they are more likely to stay in school,” she says.
She took the idea to student government which awarded the project twice what she asked for, $10,000, because they were so impressed with the idea. Then Keys teamed up with instructor Bill Powers and the students in his project management course.
Powers’ students in the final class for the project management/LEAN/Six Sigma certificate program typically take on real projects. “We don’t want to do a case study,” says Powers. “We want real-world experience—a problem or an opportunity—that is current with today’s market.”
Fifteen students spent last spring quarter on the project. They surveyed students to see what items were most desirable, identified processes for procuring items and developed a check out system.
Now the students are getting to see their work in action. Many will be at the grand opening next week and are excited to bring the Library of Things to life.
The library is also working with the CCS Foundation to establish a fund to help maintain the items and procure new ones. The service is available to all Community Colleges of Spokane students.