Books, CDs, and videos are not the only things you can check out from the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton.
Library director Kelly Harris said this week the library had purchased 10 beach chairs, which it will lend out to patrons for three-day periods this summer.
The chairs are emblazoned on the back with the slogan “Check Out My Chair” and the library’s logo and web address. They feature a large pocket to carry your reading materials, a handy cup holder, and shoulder straps so you can carry it and your beach bag easily down to the beach from the parking lot.
Originally, Ms. Harris said, the library thought about opening a “pop-up” summer library at town ocean beaches in Sagaponack and Bridgehampton, as is done by other libraries upisland, but came up with the beach chair idea after Southampton Town rejected the pop-up.
But what about getting all that nasty sand in the binding of the library book you took to the beach with you? “I think libraries have a relaxed a bit,” said Ms. Harris, who added that it would count on its patrons to take good care of the books it lends them.
“Libraries are at a crossroads of how they define themselves. Anything we can do to encourage people to use the library is helpful,” she said, adding that the days of quiet reading rooms overseen by “a shushing librarian” are on the way out.
Ms. Harris said libraries are increasingly getting into the business of providing nontraditional items for their patrons. In Southold, for instance, you can take out a fishing pole and you don’t even have to check out a copy of Hemingway’s, “The Old Man and the Sea.” Other libraries lend out things like baking pans and even ties for men who may need one for a job interview, she said.
The library’s children’s department already loans out children’s beach toys, including pails and shovels, so grandparents or short-time visitors don’t have to worry about buying their own and finding space to store them for the occasional visit.
Ms. Harris said the Hampton Library will draw the line on sun block and bathing suits, “but only because we don’t have our own washer and dryer,” so you have to provide your own bikini or Speedo.