Libraries across the state are offering much more than books, movies, and music.

Libraries have always been places of discovery, with shelves of tales real and imagined for readers to enjoy. But public libraries throughout West Virginia are finding ways to help patrons make their own adventures.

Some libraries are now offering items for nature lovers. Pocahontas County Free Libraries offer many items including butterfly nets, microscopes, cameras, fishing equipment, GPS devices, metal detectors, and egg incubators. The South Charleston Public Library has fishing rods available.

Libraries are also offering educational and craft items, especially for children. The Summersville Public Library has a section called The Curiosity Collection, which includes items such as microscopes, board games, crafting tools, croquet sets, musical instruments, and building sets like Magformers and K’Nex.

For those with green thumbs, many libraries throughout the state offer seed banks. The Summers County Public Library’s heirloom seed library allows lenders to check out vegetable and flower seeds. Then, when it comes harvest time, patrons take some of their heirloom seeds back to the library to replenish the supply.

Unique collections allow patrons to try new hobbies without making a big commitment, says Heather Campbell-Shock, library and development services director at the West Virginia Library Commission. “Some of these items can be expensive,” she says. “By (offering) these items, we see it as a way to help our community explore their interests.”


photographed by NIKKI BOWMAN