As libraries across Minnesota expand their offerings beyond traditional books, the Albert Lea Public Library is adding unique packages that combine reading with experiences. Dubbed ‘discovery kits’, they are designed to stimulate adults and youngsters’ interest in new activities, including stargazing and playing games.
Annice Sevett, Library Director, and Patty Greibrok, Children’s Librarian, developed the kits to provide lifelong learning opportunities through hands-on materials. While the kits offer fun activities, they also offer serious learning. Hands-on learning has many benefits, including engaging multiple areas of the brain and the opportunity to develop and practice problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
The 11 kits are unique to the Southeastern Libraries Cooperation system, which provides service and support to libraries in 11 counties in Southeast Minnesota. While some libraries offer study kits and some equipment to borrow, Albert Lea is the only one offering complete kits for experiences, some ideal for cozy nights at home and others for trips out:
- Stargazing for adults with telescope, accessories and guide
- Bird watching for adults and teenagers, including binoculars and bird guides
- Hiking for children with two guides, compass, magnifying glass and scavenger game
- Decks of cards, six in all, including Uno and Cribbage
- Classic four-player board games including Sorry, the sweet revenge game, and Chutes and Ladders, a pacing experience for preschoolers
- Crochet for kids, knitting for kids and knitting for adults, each kit comes with instructions and a variety of needles. Note: Patrons must provide yarn
- Science for kids, complete with two guides, a microscope and cool things to study under the microscope
The library also offers state park passes to check out, ideal for birding and hiking gear, including Myre-Big Island State Park in rural Albert Lea.
“Libraries across the country are expanding from purely traditional materials to educational kits that offer lifelong learning opportunities. These materials help community members build new skills and learn about new topics with practical materials to support learning,” said Sevett.
An Albert Lea library card is required to borrow the kits and is available free of charge to all Freeborn County residents. The library, 221 E. Clark St., is open Mondays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; 9am to 8pm Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday; and Friday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the library, see https://alplonline.org.