Partnering with Local Libraries to Offer New Experiences

Seminar with Buffy Rhodes

Buffy Rhoades, FCH program staff (left) and Christine Snodderly, Family Food Educator volunteer, answer questions about food preservation equipment available for check out during a “Library of Things” event at the Oregon City Library. Photo: Ray Rendleman

canning tongs

Have you ever wanted to try water bath canning, pressure canning, or dehydrating locally grown foods without the expense of purchasing equipment? Maybe you have written off home canning because you don’t have space to store all the equipment. What if there was a resource available that allowed you to try before you buy, or borrow seldom-used equipment on an as-needed basis? 

This past fall, eight Clackamas County Libraries opened their own “Library of Things,” a collection of non-standard, useful items including, games, kitchenware, musical instruments, and recreational equipment available for check-out, just like a library book. Items vary from library to library, as each develops its unique inventory based on a county-wide public survey conducted at the beginning of 2019. Initial funding for the project was provided by the Clackamas County Sustainability and Solid Waste Program. 

Our Family and Community Health (FCH) program seized on this opportunity to equip Clackamas County libraries with basic canning equipment and utensils. We shared water bath canners, pressure canners, dehydrators and instructions for proper use and care with Estacada, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie, Oregon City, and Sandy libraries. Participants also received tested recipe resources, including the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, Ball Blue Book, National Center for Home Food Preservation, and cooperative Extension Services publications available for downloading. 

The goal of the “Library of Things” is to promote lifelong learning by supporting new experiences, bringing people together, promoting sustainability, and reducing waste—all fitting nicely with OSU Extension’s mission and work in the county for the past 100 years. Clackamas FCH is honored to be a participant and we look forward to helping evaluate the process to better understand community interest and need for home canning resources and the Extension’s expertise.