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Public libraries check out seeds, skeletons, baking pans and more

6:03 PM, Mar. 8, 2013
Pima County, Ariz., is among a small but growing group of libraries that have opened collections of seeds for library patrons to borrow, grow and return harvested seeds. Gannett
Pima County, Ariz., is among a small but growing group of libraries that have opened collections of seeds for library patrons to borrow, grow and return harvested seeds. Gannett
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This spring, your next packet of garden seeds may come not from a hardware store or nursery, but from your local public library.

Fighting to stay relevant in the digital age, public libraries have taken to lending all manner of weird and wonderful items: hand tools, baking pans, fishing poles, telescopes and knitting needles, among others. Don't like the memoir offerings at your local branch? Bring a USB thumb drive, plug it in at one of several massive Espresso Book Machines and print a hard-cover copy of your own memoir - or any other obscure title the library doesn't keep on hand.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports