“Can I check out the Ping-Pong paddles?” Unique yet popular items that patrons crave

by Kris Turner

Obviously, the most common requests in law libraries revolve around serious research. Be it books, databases, microfilm, or whatever format, law libraries are saturated with critical tools for study. But law students often require a break in their studies with something unique, relaxing or – dare I say – even fun.

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Image via Amazon.com

As finals began winding down, I noticed an uptick in the number of law students checking out one of our more unique circulation items – a standup, or fit desk. Students were able to take the fit desk anywhere in the library and work in a more comfortable fashion. Word got around quickly, and soon it was being used daily by a few health-conscious students.

Our other heavily-used but nontraditional item are the ping-pong paddles. In the law school atrium, there is a ping-pong table that allows students to blow off steam without leaving the building. The library checks out the paddles and balls to the students, and voila! instant stress relief. I should note that we hardly ever lose any balls, and never any paddles…after all, we know who has them checked out!

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Image courtesy the New Yorker via PrawfsBlawg

We market our nontraditional items via our digital sign, which has helped increase circulation. UW also has a collection of law-related DVDs that are heavily used on the breaks and are sometimes shown in classes. I enjoy creating digital signage to advertise these items, as they give students a much-needed break and they almost certainly would not be aware of it without a little publicity. Added bonus: the students are always impressed that we own a few in-demand TV shows and movies. We have not seen a major drop-off (yet) due to streaming services, but that is something we are keeping in mind as we go forward.

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A sample digital sign for one of our more popular DVDs

UW is far from the only library that circulates items beyond books, nor do we have the most extensive unique collection. Yale Law Library has an extensive list of fun things to check out, ranging from slankets to sleds to board games and much more. Other schools, such as Georgetown and Stanford, have a bevy of techy tools for students to check out, which I imagine has saved many a student in a moment of sheer technological need.

Are there any unique items that your law library checks out? Is there something that you would love to allow students to check out but you’re still working on overcoming some obstacle? Tell us about them in the comments!

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