Fun Friday: Reed Memorial Library Cake Pan Collection
A friend in Ohio informed me recently that her local public library, Reed Memorial in Ravenna, has a collection of cake pans that it loans out to its members. Not only that! They provide OPAC access to them, too. Alf! Playboy Bunny Head! Elmo! Diego! He-Man! NASCAR! R2-D2! The list goes on! You can't place holds online, but there's a friendly note in the record directing interested patrons to the Children's Desk, where you can flip through the book of photos of the pans, and place a hold in person. According to the library's Policies page, cake pans (like DVDs) may be borrowed for 7 days, and the fine for overdues is $1/day.
Obviously, I had to know more about this collection, so I e-mailed the library and was granted this interview with Esther Cross, Head of Children's Services, and the creator/maintainer of the cake pan collections.
1) How did you decide to start the Reed Memorial Library's Cake Pan Collection?
We were doing Birthday boxes with theme cake pans. The pans were popular, not the boxes. [In a previous e-mail, Esther also noted the following:] I started the cake pan collection in the early eighties. It has been growing every year. I bought the first cake pans from a donation. Our collection now grows from donated pans and buying the newest pans. We have over 300 pans.
2) I see you've got quite a range of pan styles -- how popular is the collection? What kind of patron feedback do you receive?
The circulation varies from pan to pan. Barney has gone out 68 times. Others only once or twice. We sometimes add pans because of patron requests.
3) How easy is it to maintain the collection? Do you ever retire certain pans, either because of lack of use, or due to overuse (for example, if a non-stick pan loses its non-stick coating)?
We wash the pans that need a little extra care. They are circulated in bags with the barcode on the bag and a note to please wash before and after use. We have had to retire pans that came back damaged but not often. They are more likely to just not be returned.
4) Do you offer Interlibrary Loans of your pans? Do you also offer cake decorating supplies or workshops?
No, we don't interlibrary loan our pans. They do not transport well. People outside our county have gotten a library card here so that they could check out our pans. We do not offer decorating supplies, but do include directions for decorating the pan. We are updating the instructions to color pictures since we have the new technology.
5) I love that the list of cake pans is accessible through your OPAC -- any chance you'll be adding photos to the records online?
We are working on adding pictures to our catalog but have no idea when it will be done. We have pictures of the pans in the Children's Room for people to look at.
6) Do you do any programming with the pans? Cake taste testing, recipe contests, cake decorating programs, etc.? How extensive is your cookbook collection, particularly the baking books?
We often use our pans for library programs. I have done simple decorating programs but most often people use our pans with classes they take at other places. We have had people use our pans for the county fair and to make wedding cakes.
Thank you, Esther! I love this (so far as I know) unique collection idea, and my head is spinning with tie-ins -- cake-decorating programs, events with master bakers in the community, cookbook collections designed to tie in with the pans themselves, baking contests, a library cookbook! Fabulous.