From ghost hunting kits to telescopes, the Bay County Library System loans out much more than books

Need a ghost hunting kit or disco ball? The Bay County Library System has one to loan you. How about playing Giant Jenga or Jumbo Connect 4 at your next summer party? The library will let you borrow those too.

The system debuted its Library of Things in February, making a long list of equipment available to library card holders in Bay County. 

Kristin Madaj, Marketing Manager for the Bay County Library System, says the equipment is housed at the Alice and Jack Wirt Branch, 500 Center Ave. 

“Anybody at the other branches can request an item be sent to them,” Madaj adds.

Graphic courtesy of Bay County Library SystemAt the Wirt Library, a few of the items are displayed. The rest are tucked inside locked doors. The full list of what’s available is displayed at the library and online.

Check-out for the Library of Things is the same as for a book, except items are available only to cardholders who live in Bay County. 

After just a few months, the service has proven popular.

“We have had to order a few more of some items, specifically the Nintendo Switches,” Madaj says. “That’s super popular, so we ordered a couple more of those, just so more people can get them.”

Graphic courtesy of Bay County Library SystemA telescope, Chromebooks, pickleball set, and yard games all have been checked out a few times.

“We’ve seen a lot of other libraries doing this and we’re excited to bring it here. We’ve had a lot of people requesting items like this for a long time, so it was nice to see it come to fruition.”

Madaj is unsure of the value of the entire collection, but estimates it’s in the thousands of dollars. The money came from the library’s collection development budget.

Borrowing the items is a good way to stretch your household budget.

“I think it’s a really great way to try out some different hobbies without spending hundreds of dollars to see if you’d like to do something,” Madaj says.

“If you want to get into sewing, you could check out the sewing machine and see if you’ll actually use it. If you’re thinking about getting a Cricut, check it out. See how you can use it, see if you like it, and maybe down the road, you buy one for yourself. It’s a nice way to try a bunch of things.”
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Kathy Roberts.

Kathy Roberts, a graduate of Central Michigan University, moved to Bay City in 1987 to start a career in the newspaper industry. She was a reporter and editor at the Bay City Times for 15 years before leaving to work at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Covenant HealthCare, and Ohno Design. In 2019, she returned to her storytelling roots as the Managing Editor of Route Bay City. When she’s not editing or writing stories, you can find her reading books, knitting, or visiting the bars of Bay County. You can reach Kathy at