News

Lending a hand in the kitchen

By Penny Coles, Niagara Advance

NOTL Public Library program services co-ordinator Beth Labelle hopes to have a broad assortment of kitchen items to offer the public. The public has already been generous, she says, demonstrating a high-end food processor. Penny Coles Niagara Advance

NOTL Public Library program services co-ordinator Beth Labelle hopes to have a broad assortment of kitchen items to offer the public. The public has already been generous, she says, demonstrating a high-end food processor. Penny Coles Niagara Advance

With two small children, Beth Labelle says, "I'd love to try a yogurt maker. I think the kids would have fun helping. But do I want to spend money on one? I'm not sure."

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library program services so-ordinator can think of a few similar scenarios when a kitchen utensil lending library might be useful.

For example, you're having a party and thinking you might like cappuccino bar, but you don't have a machine to make the popular gourmet coffee or the delicious frothed milk to make it perfect?

Borrow one.

Or maybe you would like access to a food processor on occasion, a convection oven or a stand mixer, but you don't want to take up space in your kitchen to store something you'll use infrequently.

The library is amassing a kitchen utensil collection to cover just such contingencies.

"Maybe we have something you don't want to buy because you're not going to use it every day, or maybe you want to try it out before you buy it," says Labelle. "We got the idea from a Toronto Kitchen Library and liked the idea of being able to borrow what you need."

Libraries these days are trying to be more than books and a building, she says.

"We want to engage a different demographic, give people a different way to see the library."

By the time the kitchen library is ready to open in the summer, Labelle says there will be a catalogue available online for members to see what is available.

At the moment, she is appealing to those who might be doing some spring cleaning—including local restaurants—to consider the library before getting rid of kitchen items.

She would also love to have place settings for 20 people or more, to borrow when entertaining.

Willow Cakes and pastries has donated some coupons to give to people who donate to the utensil lending library, each one redeemable for a free coffee or tea at the local local bakery.

"So far the public has been very generous," she said.

Once the kitchen library is up and running, Labelle hopes to have a local chef hold workshops explaining how to use the utensils, with featured cook books and recipes to make the program interactive.

She also envisions canning lessons accompanying the lending of canning supplies in the fall, as people try to get back to basics by preserving local produce.

There are so many ways a library can play a role in the community, other than by lending books, she says. She plans to have a seed library up and running—drop off seeds from your garden in the fall and pick up new ones you might like to try in the spring, when it's time to plant them.

She's also contemplating, for the future, a toy lending collection and a tool library.

There will be a nominal charge for a kitchen library card, which will be separate from a library card, she says, generating some revenue for new utensils.

It will be volunteer-run, located in the kiosk beside the cafe in the lounge area between the library and the community centre, and will be open to anyone in the region.

Labelle has a list of utensils she thinks would be good to have for the kitchen library: in addition to the yogurt maker, she would like to be able to offer a convection oven, a stand mixer, a meat slicer, breadmakers, juicers, food processors, slow cookers and crock pots, meat grinders, ice cream makers, espresso makers, pressure cookers, pasta makers, fondue sets, kitchen scales, popcorn makers, waffle irons, panini presses, vacuum sealers, dehydrator, canning equipment, oversize pots and pans, novelty baking pans and blenders.

For more information or to donate an item call the library at 905-468-2023.

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