Beyond books, the Albert Lea library offers checkout adventures – Albert Lea Tribune

As Minnesota libraries expand their offerings beyond traditional books, Albert Lea Public Library is adding unique packages that combine reading and experiences. Called “discovery kits”, they are designed to pique the interest of adults and young people in new activities, including stargazing and games.

Annice Sevett, Library Manager, and Patty Greibrok, Children’s Librarian, developed the kits to provide lifelong learning opportunities through hands-on materials. Although the kits offer fun activities, they also offer serious learning. Hands-on learning has many benefits, including engaging multiple areas of the brain and providing opportunities to develop and practice problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

The 11 kits are unique in the Southeast Library Cooperative System, which provides services and support to libraries in 11 southeast Minnesota counties. While some libraries offer learning kits and outing materials, Albert Lea is the only one to offer complete kits of experiments, some ideal for cozy nights in and others for adventuring:

  • Stargazing for adults with telescope, accessories and guide
  • Birdwatching for adults and youth including binoculars and birding guides
  • Hike for kids with two guides, compass, magnifying glass and fetch game
  • Card games, six in total, including Uno and Cribbage
  • Classic board games, a total of four, including Sorry, the game of sweet revenge, and Chutes and Ladders, a top-down experience for preschoolers
  • Crochet for kids, knit for kids and knit for adults, with each kit providing a guide and a variety of needles. Note: Customers must provide wire
  • Science for kids, with two guides, a microscope and cool things to study under the microscope

The library also offers state park passes for departure, providing an ideal setting for birding and hiking kits, including Myre-Big Island State Park in the Indiana countryside. ‘Albert Leah.

“Libraries across the country are moving from traditional materials to educational kits that provide lifelong learning opportunities. These materials help community members learn new skills and explore new topics with practical materials to facilitate learning,” Sevett said.

An Albert Lea Library Card – available free to all residents of Freeborn County – is required to view the kits. The library, at 221 E. Clark St., is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday; and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Sunday. For more information about the library, visit

About Stuart M. McFarland

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