News

Kitchen Lending Library gives Oxford County residents the chance to borrow cooking tools and speciality appliances for one week

By Megan Stacey, The London Free Press

Lisa Miettinen, CEO/chief librarian of Oxford County Library, shows off some of the items in the new Kitchen Lending Library. That collection includes everything from a Darth Vader cake pan to a vegetable spiralizer to a breadmaker. (Submitted)

Lisa Miettinen, CEO/chief librarian of Oxford County Library, shows off some of the items in the new Kitchen Lending Library. That collection includes everything from a Darth Vader cake pan to a vegetable spiralizer to a breadmaker. (Submitted)

Have you ever wanted to make your own pasta, homemade bread, or customized fruit roll ups?

The Oxford County Library is introducing a new collection – the Kitchen Lending Library – that can help you do just that.

After more than a year of soliciting donations and sorting kitchen tools, the new library items are ready for regular rotation.

“We have tiny little cookie cutters through to small appliances,” said Sarah McDonald, systems support librarian with Oxford County Library.

“We’ve got juicers, we have a toaster, we have two ice cream makers and a popsicle maker.”

Oxford County Library users can trade their books for baking, and give a specialty food tool a spin before dropping the dough on something that will gather dust in the back of the cupboard.

“Or they might find they love it, and then they can go out and purchase one for themselves,” McDonald said.

Packaging and transporting the kitchen collection was one of the biggest challenges. Smaller items are now packaged in clip-top bags, and rolling or collapsible bins carry the larger pieces.

“They go out with a sheet like this I’ve made up, how to use it and how to clean it, and if there’s a manufacturer’s website…you can actually go there and see how they use it and see examples,” said Melanie Law, who spent months cataloguing items.

The first loan, a dehydrator, was already borrowed and returned from the Kitchen Lending Library. It’s exciting and a little nerve-wracking to see it come together, McDonald said.

“It’s promoting community,” she said. “And then it’s also a great bonding activity for families.”

A new set of Star Wars cookie cutters are already proving popular.

“They’re going out to a mom and her 16-year-old son who’s taking cooking in school,” said Law.

But the favourite item for McDonald and Law is an elaborate castle-shaped baking pan.

“It looks like a sandcastle mould. It’s heavy, it’s cast-iron. I can see it being a Harry Potter cake, a Disney princess cake, you can make a holiday castle,” McDonald said.

“And it doesn’t have to be just cake,” added Law. “People have used jello, ice cream, stuff like that.”

The Kitchen Lending Library can play a part in making less indulgent dishes, too.

“We have spiral peelers to make those vegetable noodles that are all the rage right now,” McDonald said.

It’s easy to get involved. Library users need to sign up online and fill out a form. Then they can request items be sent to their nearest library branch. Loans are one week long, and there are no late fees.

The new kitchen tools fit perfectly with library programs that are already running, including a cookbook club at the Ingersoll Library and cooking demonstrations around the county.

“I am not a particularly good cook, nor do I necessarily feel motivated to cook, but I always leave those classes wanting to try stuff, whether it’s a new ingredient or tool that they showcase,” McDonald said. “This program was really designed with that in mind.”

The Kitchen Lending Library is also just plain fun.

“It’s a unique collection that I think is really relevant to our patrons,” McDonald said.

mstacey@postmedia.com

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GET COOKING

Register with the Kitchen Lending Library and fill out an agreement to start borrowing tools: www.ocl.net/kitchen