24 things to take out and check out — no reading required:
1. Museum passes.
Many area libraries have free passes to places like the Franklin Institute and Barnes Foundation; just give your local branch a ring.
2. Cake pans.
Only an occasional baker? Libraries in Philly, Lower Merion and Bucks County will let you borrow Bundt pans, muffin tins and more.
3. String instruments.
Check out banjos, mandolins and guitars from Parkway Central Library, or pluck a ukulele with the help of the Bucks County Free Library.
4. Memory care bags.
These pre-packed bags, available at the Bucks County libraries, include games, books and activities for Alzheimer’s patients as well as resource texts for caregivers.
5. Blood pressure cuffs.
Check them out at the South Philadelphia library to keep an eye on your health.
6. Birding backpacks.
Stuffed with binoculars, maps and a field guide, and available at the Andorra, Cecil B. Moore, Cobbs Creek and Widener locations.
7. Board games.
Wanna build a hotel on Park Place? Find classic board games at the Welsh Road library in the Northeast.
8. Knitting needles.
Check out a book of knitting patterns and the needles you need to make that scarf happen at the libraries in Bucks County.
Southwest Philly’s Paschalville local gives job-seekers a chance to spruce up for interviews with neckties.
10. Escape-room games.
Breakout-game kits at the Bucks County Free Library let you problem-solve in your own home or classroom.
11. Streaming devices.
Netflix and chill with the Roku devices available at select Bucks County libraries.
The Narberth Community Library and the McCowan Memorial Library in Pitman have small packets of seeds at the start of the season; just return new seeds once your crop is harvested.
1. Become a Top Chef.
The Culinary Literacy Center at the Parkway Central Library hosts cooking classes on butchery, beer brewing and more, taught by Philly’s best toques.
2. Print from mobile devices.
Send print jobs from your laptop, smartphone or tablet to the public printers at a handful of Delco and Lower Merion libraries, from just about anywhere.
3. Drink a beer.
Sip and snack in summertime at the Skyline Beer Garden on the fourth-floor terrace of Parkway Central Library.
4. Research your family history.
Dig into Pennsylvania genealogy databases (with helpful how-to guides) at the Free Library and Delco libraries.
5. Get your passport.
The Northeast Regional Library offers processing and photo services.
6. Do yoga.
From yoga story-time for parents and kids to chair yoga for seniors, there are free classes at locations all across the city.
7. Practice tai chi.
Activate your brain and improve your health with occasional sessions at Philly’s Oak Lane and Central libraries and Delco’s Aston Library.
The Cobbs Creek library hosts dancing classes on the Philly Bop, a dance created by African-Americans that’s based on 1920s Lindy hop, jitterbug and East Coast swing traditions.
9. Learn to sew.
At the Honey Brook library in Chester County, Ms. Nancy teaches sewing classes on six library machines, every Wednesday night throughout the year.
10. Find your inner Spielberg.
Bucks County’s Yardley-Makefield branch has a studio with an HD video camera, a professional mic, mounted lighting and a green screen.
11. Research grants.
The Parkway Central Library’s Regional Foundation Center offers a giant database of grants available to nonprofits.
12. Build a robot.
The Free Library’s traveling “Maker Jawn” program gives Philadelphians the chance to get techy with tools.
Published as “Check It Out: Books? What Books?” in the March 2018 issue of Philadelphia magazine.