If you missed the recent Library Journal article about Toronto’s new Kitchen Library, you should definitely read it now!
If that’s too long, I’ll summarize briefly: there’s a library in Toronto that loans out kitchen supplies. These include equipment that’s too large, expensive, or not frequently useful enough to be commonly held (things like dough mixers and ice cream makers). While this library charges a modest membership fee, there’s no reason a program like this couldn’t be run out of a public library–in fact there’s plenty of synergistic potential. For instance, having all those exotic kitchen implements on hand opens the door for programming opportunities on the culinary arts, be they tailored to the adventurous or to the cookery clueless. This would also present excellent display opportunities in tandem with your cookbook collection. If you have an umbrella license, you could tie in your circulating cooking equipment with screenings of succulently foody films.
Now, there would be some things you’d need to address in your policies before beginning to circulate this stuff. The collection would likely need its own loan policies (short loan periods, stiffer than normal fines for late returns, etc.) You should consider implementing fines for materials returned unwashed or damaged. If possible, you may wish to perform a sanitary wash on equipment that has contact with food before recirculating items. You will need to address liability in the usage of any part of the collection. Uncommonly for library policy, you will also have to address food safety concerns, as you will be unable to guarantee that the equipment has not been used with allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, etc.) Similarly, there may be particularities related to food preparation you would not be able to address without having multiple copies of your equipment, such as vegetarian, vegan, or religious restrictions on food preparation. Also: you may wish to refrain from stocking knives.