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Feeling adventurous? The library has cool things to borrow to help you enjoy the outdoors

'We try to fill the gaps and help to make opportunities affordable for everyone,' said library official, noting provincial park passes, disc golf sets and more can be borrowed
Orillia Public Library staff members, Director of Information Services Kelli Absalom, left, and Director of Children and Youth Services Sarah Papple, welcome questions about the many “Adventure Kits’ they have for borrowing – like the Disc Golf and Get Outside! kits, available for free with your library card.

No matter your age or interest, the Orillia Public Library has some fun opportunities to help you enjoy the outdoors.

Whether you like to relax on a hammock, discover new hiking trails, plant a garden or explore wildlife in your backyard, the library has lots of “Cool Things to Borrow” that will help you have fun and maybe even learn some new skills.

The Cool Things to Borrow section on the library’s website is a fun adventure in itself. Who knew you could borrow a provincial park pass, a skateboard, a disc golf set, a compass, binoculars or a Dog Man activity game!

Kelli Absalom, the library’s director of information services, says that providing non-traditional items for borrowing is simply another way to help the community access information and make connections.

“We try to fill the gaps and help to make opportunities affordable for everyone,” said Absalom.

“This year people have been especially interested in discovering ways to connect outside of the house. People are looking for things to do,” added Absalom.

Being able to borrow one of our provincial park passes, which provide one-day visits to any provincial park free of charge, has been extremely popular, reported Absalom, with many people on a waiting list right now.

But there are many other opportunities that Library card-holders can check out, many of them in the form of “Adventure Kits.”

Sarah Papple, director of children and youth services, started developing Adventure Kits about five years ago.

“It started with our early literacy programs. We wanted to deliver programs in a way that was fun and entertaining, while supporting literacy,” explained Papple.

Library staff also realized that many working parents were unable to visit the library to attend activities like storytime with their children.

“We created adventure bags so they could take books and play activities home. We also started offering pop-up storytimes out in the community, at places like Scout Valley and the Leacock Museum grounds,” said Papple.

The idea of adventure kits grew to include the interests of older children and teens. Some of the  

kits were developed in partnership with the community, such as the skateboard kit, which includes a how-to book. The skateboards are picked up and serviced from Pocket Skate and Vintage in Downtown Orillia.

Two of the kits families may be especially intrigued by are the “Hike at Night” or “Birds and Other Outdoor Friends” kits. The hiking kit includes area trial maps, compass, waterproof phone bags, star finder, moon book, and road-trip BINGO. The birding kit includes the tools to set up an instant bird-watching station along with books to identify and learn about birds visiting the feeder.

“What we’re doing is providing the tools – whether books, games or sports equipment – to help kids and teens access information and new opportunities. When someone borrows a kit and discovers something – it could be a constellation or a new kind of bird – and they come back to the library for books to learn more, it’s magic. It’s the moment that keeps us motivated,” said Papple.

“We always welcome new ideas for cool things to borrow, but we want to make sure it is serving a genuine need or want,” said Absalom. “Sometimes there are grant opportunities or sponsors that help us provide interesting and fun learning experiences.”

A new adventure kit focused on fishing, soon to be offered by the library, is a good example of this.

Through a unique program called Tackleshare, library members will be able to borrow a fishing rod and tackle.

The program was initiated by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and is sponsored by Ontario Power Generation. It is intended to give new and young anglers the opportunity to go fishing by providing the equipment and knowledge to get them started.

To find out more about all of the cool things you can borrow, visit the Orillia Public Library website.

Papple also suggests that an easy and fun way to borrow one of the kits is to fill out a “Surprise Bag” form (found on the website). Borrowers simply let the Library know that they would like an adventure kit and specify their particular interests. Kits are currently available for curbside pick-up.