A new kind of "library" is preparing to help more people get outdoors: a “Community Gear Library” is set to launch on August 30, 2023 thanks to a creative partnership between two mission-driven organizations.
The Community Gear Library (CGL) is an independently run nonprofit which is partnering with Massanutten Regional Library (MRL) to lend outdoor gear to local residents. Community members who have a library card can borrow a variety of camping gear through MRL's Central Library, in downtown Harrisonburg, free of charge. Items available through the Community Gear Library include tents, sleeping bags, camp stoves, cook kits, and child backpack carriers. Family Camping Kits, which come with items a family would need to camp for a weekend, are also available.
To qualify to borrow CGL items, interested borrowers must have a current MRL card and attend "Gear Library 101" orientation classes, which will be held at the Central Library in downtown Harrisonburg, and led by CGL staff. During the class, users will be shown how to set up tents, use camping stoves, and learn about local camping and hiking areas. Attendees will also gain an understanding of the expectations for borrowing, usage, and return of CGL items. The first Gear Library 101 classes will be held on August 23, 2023. Interested community members can sign up for the required orientation by emailing CommunityGearLibrary@gmail.com.
CGL items may be borrowed in-person at Central Library during regular operating hours and may be checked out for a one-week use period. Community Gear Library items are the property of the CGL and may not be put on hold through the MRL catalog or delivered to other MRL branch locations.
“Activities like camping are expensive, and the Community Gear Library wants to be able to help more people spend time together outdoors For a family of four to go camping for the weekend it would cost at least $600 just to get even the cheapest gear,” said Harriet Flynn, co-founder of the CGL.” We started planning the CGL back in late 2022 and came to the library hoping that they would join with us and luckily for us, they were all in. We now operate under a joint plan of work with Virginia Organizing and have support from Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition, Walkabout Outfitters, and many community members. We will continue to raise funds to purchase more gear as we prepare to open.”
"We are pleased to partner with the Community Gear Library as an additional way to provide excellent and equitable resources to all in our community," stated Zach Elder, Massanutten Regional Library Director. “MRL is excited to include this offering under our 'Library of Things,’ which currently includes free passes to the Frontier Culture Museum, free passes to the Explore More Discovery Museum, State Parks passes and nature backpacks for families, Memory Kits for patrons caring for loved ones living with memory loss, and our Community Seed Library at Central Library in Harrisonburg and Page Public Library in Luray. Libraries by their very nature encourage shared resources and free and equal access to materials and items that enhance lifelong learning and quality of life. We see the Community Gear Library as a natural extension of our mission and look forward to seeing many MRL patrons enjoy the outdoors for many years to come through this partnership.”
For additional information on the Community Gear Library, please visit www.communitygearlibrary.com.