The Kenai Community Library staff are hoping kids will take the bait as they launch a new Fishing Rod Loaner Program this summer.
"It's kind of an experiment, but we hope the program will be a success," said library director Mary Jo Joiner.
The program makes rods available for children -- 15 years or younger -- to check out for free, just like a book. A registration form must be signed by a parent or legal guardian willing to assume the responsibility for the minor in case of misuse or abuse of the gear (similar to library rules for other items). The form would include a liability waiver.
Also, just like when someone keeps a book too long, Joiner said. "There will be late fees if the equipment is not returned on time."
Miranda Plumb, a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Field Office in Soldotna, is credited with bringing the fishing rod loaner program to the library. She said the idea stemmed from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiative to expand efforts to connect people with the natural world in such a way that they'll care about and thus conserve America's natural resources.
"We want to get people of all ages back into the outdoors," she said.
The library currently has eight rods, which have been donated by Trustworthy Fishing and Hardware in Soldotna, and all are available for loan.
"Two are suitable for salmon, but not kings, and six are suitable for trout fishing. They come with a rod, reel and line," Joiner said.
Fishing tackle is not be provided at this time, but may be a possibility for next year if the program is successful.
In addition to the rods available at the library, their is a second location where fishing gear can also be checked out.
"We've got about 10 here, too," said Patti Berkhahn with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office in Soldotna.
Like the library's rods, Berkhahn said the Fish and Game gear would only be suitable for light salmon and trout fishing. To check out this fishing equipment, appointments must be made by calling 907-262-9368 to ensure that either Berkhahn or Sandee Simons are available to loan out the gear.
Joiner said all children that check out a rod through the library program will receive instruction on knot tying and a copy of the 2008 Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary for Southcentral Alaska. She said she hopes this also encourages participants to utilize some of the library's other resources related to fishing, knot tying and outdoor recreation.
"We want people to know where to go and what to do," she said.
Joiner said in addition to the program enabling children without any gear to be able to easily get a hold of some, she hoped kids will enjoy fishing so much that it fosters a connection to nature and they are hooked for life.
"The notion of libraries just being warehouses for books is old an inaccurate. They're about more than just research and recreational reading. Libraries are living institutions that offer resources that relate to our everyday lives, and we hope this program will be another benefit to the community," she said.
For more information on the fishing rod loaner program, call the Kenai Community Library at 907-283-4378.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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