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Berkeley Public Library is introducing a lending program for kitchen appliances in the spring of 2020

Ellen Fort  – December 31, 2019 | Updated January 6, 2020

Want to test-drive an air fryer? Investigate an Instant Pot? Or maybe just give sous vide cooking a try without buying a pricey piece of equipment? Soon residents of Berkeley will be able to check out fancy kitchen gadgets from the library for free—with a valid library card, of course.

The new kitchen arm of the library is an expansion of the already popular Tool Lending Library program, which has offered ladders, wheelbarrows, rakes, circular saws, and more to borrow since it was founded in 1979.

The addition of kitchen appliances to the library is the first program of its kind in California, though there are a few other similar lending programs that loan out a variety of objects, from metal detectors to microscopes to electric guitars. The “Library of Things” is available at libraries in Sacramento, CA, Beaverton, OR, and Los Alamos, AZ, among other places. 

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Berkeley plans to launch the kitchen appliance lending program in the spring of 2020, in response to demand from city residents. Over 4,000 people responded to a survey that indicated interest in more food-related programming, unsurprising in a city that’s home to some of the country’s best farmers’ markets, and the flagship of California cuisine, Chez Panisse. Berkeley Public Library already regularly fills up its culinary classes (and the waiting lists), which cover topics like cheese and butter making, as well as healthy cooking.

Before it opens, library staff is taking more suggestions via survey for the kitchen appliances that will be available, from canning supplies to roasting pans and lemon juicers. It’s an ideal option for those who can’t afford to gamble on extra kitchen appliances, or simply don’t have the room to store them (ahem, Instant Pot).