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Library offers free cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals

Mainers with a library card can rent cross-country skis and snowshoes through the Katahdin Gear Library at the Millinocket Memorial Library.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Tucked away in the back of the Millinocket Memorial Library is another library, offering the cheapest and easiest way to make the most of winter. 

That additional library is the Katahdin Gear Library, where Mainers with a Millinocket Memorial Library card can rent out cross country skis and snowshoes for free. 

"We obviously have that model down of tracking and managing. In our case, we have 20,000 books on the shelves," said library director Matt DeLaney. "We thought, 'Let's tweak that a little bit, and can we do the same thing with bicycles or skis or snowshoes.'"

The gear library received equipment from the Outdoor Sports Institute, a non-profit that works to create community bonds through outdoor activities. 

"Equipment is unfortunately often a prohibitive piece. People don't have it, people can't afford it, or people don't even know what they should have in the first place," said Outdoor Sports Institute COO and Program Director Michael Smith. 

Smith hopes that by providing this gear to members of the Millinocket community for free, it can help generate an entryway for Mainers who otherwise couldn't afford equipment.

"It serves as an educational piece, so that people can figure out where to go next. And that's really what this is about, which is providing an entry point where people can then really figure out what works for them and go get it," said Smith.

There is no limit on how many times someone can rent equipment from the gear library. 

The Katahdin Gear Library is also open during the summer months, renting out mountain bikes and gear.