Strawbees, VR, and Zoo Kits, Oh My!: Unique Items To Get From The Library

A board game, building toy mad of long straws called Strawbees, and a STEAM Starter Kit are amongst several unique items you can get at the BPL
See what else you can find at the library. Photo by Caitlin Jackson.

Libraries are well known for their collections of books, magazines, databases, and other things related to the printed word. However, what some people may not know is that the library has started adding many other items to its collections.

Today, we're going to highlight some of the other upgraded items you can get at your library. 

Video Games:

There are a few libraries in the system that now circulate video games. These items usually check out for one week with the chance for renewal. Also, if your local library doesn't have a game, no problem! Just use the catalog to put a hold on one at another library and have it sent to the library of your choice for pickup. Click here to look at what video games we have in the entire system. If you want to narrow down the libraries, just go to the left-hand side under the locations tab.

Board Games:

Want a family fun night without technology? We've got the board game for you! Only three Birmingham locations have these so if you want to try them out, head over to Springville Road Regional Branch Library, Five Points West Regional Branch Library, or the downtown Central Library! You can glance at the selections of all the libraries (including Hoover and Center Point) ahead of time right here. Our current top four recommended right now are Wingspan, Villainous, Everdell, and Azul. But we'll get back to you!

Virtual Reality (VR) Book Sets:

These are one of the upgraded items mentioned before! In these sets, you get one book and one set of cardboard VR goggles that you can use with your cellphone. Do you want to see the sharks in the ocean like you're really there? Try these sets now and thank Library Ideas for their donation of 34 sets to the library! For more information about these items from the company itself, click here

Reimagining School Readiness Storytime and Birmingham Zoo Family Pass Kits:

The Storytime Kits were donated to the library through participation in the program, Reimagining School Readiness. The program was created through a collaboration of the Alabama Public Library Service, California State Library, Pacific Library Partnership, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Bay Area Discovery Museum. Each kit has picture books paired with storytime songs, activities, and learning manipulative to prepare your child for school. Some themes of the kits are nature, counting, emotions, and patterns. These kits are only available for in-house use now, so come enjoy a morning at the Central Library to experience Reimagining School Readiness. 

A small clear bookbag that has a bunch of books in it and a laminated sheet that says "Alabama Wild Bears"  is set against a green bush surrounded by three other books about zoos and animals.
Find this Bear Bookbag at the Central Library. Photo by Cheyenne Trujillo.

However, our Zoo Pass Kits are available for checkout at the Central Library, Springville Road Library, Five Points West Library, and Avondale Regional Branch Library. These kits were created and donated by the Birmingham Zoo and each of the four kits connects with one area of the zoo. You must check them out from and return them to their specific locations. In return for enjoying these kits, you get a free pass to the zoo for four people, which is good for two months from the time you return the kit. 

STEM Kits (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math):

Finally, STEM kits are here! I'm sure that you have heard that STEM is the new thing in schools. These kits were created in partnership with the Infymaker Grant Award 2021, which the Birmingham Public Library was awarded last year! The kit we want to highlight is the Strawbees kit. Simple but effective, these straws will allow you or your child to build with straws and connectors while introducing basic engineering and problem-solving skills. Available for checkout at Regional libraries only. 

You can see what else Infymakers are building on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube, and search for the hashtags (and tag yourself with) #Infymakers, #WhyIMake, and #makered.  

By Caitlin Jackson | Librarian Ⅰ, Teen/STEAM, Central Youth Department