When was the last time you visited your local public library?

There's been a lot of conversation around libraries lately, whether it has to do with banned and controversial books or funding. But there's one fact about libraries that isn't getting much attention that is worthy of the spotlight.

Your Montana public library has more than just books.

Montana libraries, like many public libraries, are a place to provide resources to the community. You'll often see computers for public use, or maybe you've attended an educational event. It's also easy to forget that public libraries are a little like Hastings Entertainment. You can check out CDs and DVDs as well as books.

But three Montana libraries have especially unique resources that you might not have known about.

Lewis & Clark Library, Helena Montana

The Lewis & Clark Library, the public library of Helena, Montana, announced this week on its Facebook page that they have birdwatching kits available to check out. You'll see below that the kits come with binoculars and guidebooks, both things that people might not want to buy unless they are avid birders.

But this way, it's a hobby that you can dabble in, and then return the materials when you're done.

Bozeman Public Library, Bozeman Montana

Sometimes, libraries have unique equipment you can use when you're at the library. That's the case with the Bozeman Public Library. Through their 'reserve a room' option, they also have the option to reserve what they call "workbench equipment." This includes sewing machines, an embroidery machine, and a laser cutter. Fun fact: the sewing machines have been named after Lord of the Rings characters, so you could reserve "Sewing Machine: Legolas" or "Sewing Machine: Pippin."

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Billings Public Library, Billings Montana

The Billings Public Library also has a kit available, like the birdwatching kit at the Lewis & Clark Library, but their kit is a DIY Democracy Kit. It's part of a project funded by Humanities Montana. They have two kits with different themes: a history kit and a kit explaining how the government works. Given that it's an election year, it might be a great time to brush up on some civics.

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