If you're like most families with growing children, you probably succumbed to the urge to buy an Elmo or a Teletubby cake pan mold for your youngster's birthday.
Maybe, the urge came over you more than once, and as your child grew older, you moved on to cake pan molds of increasing maturity.
If you're like most people, those cake pan molds that once lent a fun quality to an otherwise ordinary birthday cake have been relegated to the dark recesses of a kitchen drawer. When another birthday rolls around, more likely than not, the old cake pan mold is no longer appropriate; perhaps the child is interested in another theme or last year's hot character has fallen off the child's radar.
So, what are you going to do? That's exactly the question that crossed the mind of Susan Sterling, the director of the Dimmick Memorial Library, who had been surfing the online Library Journal when she learned about libraries that were lending materials other than books, magazines, audios and videos.
"One article discussed how some libraries have been circulating cake pans," Sterling said. "I thought, what a great idea. Think of all the pans you have in your cupboard that you use once or twice and you never use again."
An article Sterling had been reading, "Let Them Lend Cake Pans," described how the Charles County Public Library in Maryland came up with the idea. It seems that their IT manager has a penchant for baking and suggested that the library establish a cake pan collection.
"We just loved it," noted their branch manager. "We like to be a little bit weird."
Weird is nothing new to Jim Thorpe, which was named for the Olympian who never visited the town. Sterling thought it was a grand idea.
"I thought that if everyone would donate them to the library, then they would all be in one place and you can come in and borrow a pan, bake the cake you want, and return it to the library. You don't have to purchase the pan. Everyone wins," she said.
She checked it out.
"Every library that has tried offering a cake pan lending library has received many good comments," she said. "Yesterday I posted it on the Dimmick Memorial Library Facebook page. Already people are talking about it. They think it's a great idea."
Sterling and the library staff reorganized some overly deep, underutilized shelving in the children's area for the cake pan collection. They hope it can accommodate 50 pans.
The project started on July 18, and by the next day the library received donations of 20 cake pans, several donated by Sterling and her staff.
"Everything is donated," she said. "We picked a couple up at a yard sale, cheap."
"Borrowing regulations for the cake pan collection are just like for books, two weeks. A library card is required. Trying to decide how to circulate them was difficult," Sterling said. "We couldn't put a bar code on them because they are going to go in the oven."
They opted to mark the cake pans with a permanent marker and to accompany the cake pans with a card marked with the bar code.
"We suggest you wash them before you use them and wash and dry them before returning them," she said. "It will save people money because they don't have to go out and buy character pans any more."
"I think it's a pretty neat idea," Sterling noted. "We were all amused when we were putting it together. In fact, some tourists came in from New York, saw the pans on the shelf, and plan to take the idea back to the Big Apple."