Many librarians are realizing that there is a definitive shift in the way the library will be serving the public in the future. With the addition of computers, DVDs, and now e-books and other digital media, the library is becoming a place that people come to for a variety of learning materials, not just traditional print books. One group in Toronto has taken that idea even further and started a Kitchen Library: a non-profit kitchen tool lending library. Currently, for an annual fee of $50 (Canadian) people can join the library and, as members, may borrow small to medium kitchen appliances for three to five days. According to The Kitchen Library founder, Dayna Boyer, she got the idea for the Kitchen Library from the Toronto Tool Library, a collection of approximately 2000 power and hand tools that members may borrow for household projects.
Boyer solicited donations from the community and collected about 40 appliances although donations continue to come in. These appliances help cash and space strapped urban Toronto citizens to create dishes they might be unable to make otherwise. According to Boyer, the biggest appliance the library carries is a countertop roaster. All of the items can be carried by one person and fit on public transportation. Staff encourages people to clean the appliances before they are returned, though all items are washed and dried by hand once they come back to the library. Since all the items are donated, Library staff cannot guarantee that any item is allergen free, although they are looking to purchase duplicate appliances that they can designate for vegetarian or vegan cooking.
Boyer would like to see the library’s inventory continue to grow and she would like to find a new space that can hold not only the growing collection but also make it possible to offer programming. Right now the Kitchen Library is looking for donations of juicers, food processors, meat grinders, vacuum sealers, and knife sharpeners. They are also looking for more volunteers to help staff the Kitchen Library, which is currently open 20 hours a week.
Currently, the Kitchen Library is not affiliated with the Toronto Public Library, but the institutions do not rule out a cooperative agreement in the future. The Toronto Public Library already has included nontraditional items in is circulating collection including laptops, pedometers, and museum passes. The library also offers digital hubs where people can book time to work on digital media and use 3-D printers.