Library offers free “discovery kits” to encourage start of new hobbies, skills

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — An eastern Iowa library is expanding its services past beyond checking out books to checking our experiences through “discovery kits”.

Try it before you buy it, that’s the idea behind the Iowa City Public Library’s 21 new discovery kits it recently created for checkouts.

All of them focus on learning a new skill or discovering a new hobby without the financial barriers or commitment.

“A lot of the time you want to try something as a kid and your attention span may not be all there to keep going on this somewhat expensive hobby and is going to sit in a closet, unused, for years,” Morgan Reeves, a children’s librarian at ICPL, said.

Reeves helped curate the kits focused on kids. Additional kits are also available for teens and adults. She said she focused the kits on activities that kids can do with their parents.

Children kits range from learning how to decorate cookies and cakes to learning how to code with the help of a robot or even learn how to play the ukelele.

Each kit provides the majority of the necessary tools to start the activity.

Reeves said one of her favorites is the bug catching kit. It features a bug habitat, magnifying glass, butterfly net, and 3 bug viewer boxes. Considering it is a library, every kit also includes a book to learn more about the activity.

The full list for kid’s kits are Hiking and Nature; Ukulele; Bugs and Insects; Board Games; Astronomy; Coding and Robotics; Bocce Ball; Cookie and Cake Decorating; Flying Kites; and Rock Collecting.

Some of the kits for adults are:  Explore Iowa; Bike Tool Kit; Disc Golf; Home Energy Efficiency; Birdwatching; Stargazing; Ukulele; Knitting; Crocheting; and Chess and Checkers.

Another adult discovery kit is a sport growing in popularity, pickleball.

“Someone sees that there’s a pickleball court going in. They don’t know what pickleball is. They don’t really want to make an investment. They can get the kit, go out, and play and decide if it’s something that they like or not,” Brian Visser, ICPL Teen’s Services Librarian, said.

The library said it focuses on life-long learning beyond only reading.

“Find something new. Find something maybe you’ve always wanted to do or maybe something you never thought of doing,” Visser said.

The kits were first made available on Wednesday and can be checked out for three weeks at a time.

People can check out one at a night and cannot check out a kit more than once.

The library was able to pay for the kits through a $1,500 grant from the Community Foundation of Johnson County.

Go to the ICPL website to learn how to check out the kits.

Jalyn Souchek

Jalyn Souchek

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