Kansas libraries let people check out cake pans

? A longtime practice of checking out cake pans at libraries in Kansas, particularly in rural areas, has increased as people look for a way to save money while still providing treats for special occasions.

More cake pans are being loaned at the Great Bend Public Library after employees recently moved nearly 100 of the pans from a back room to bookshelves, The Hutchinson News reported.

The pans come packaged in large, plastic bags with decorating instructions. The collection grows as more people donate their pans.

“I just love watching people’s faces when they ask, ‘You have cake pans?’ Yep, we do,” said Cara Negaard, head of the library’s reference department.

Great Bend is just one of dozens across Kansas with such a collection. The library in Sabetha has a collection of 168 cake pans, while the Coffey County Library in eastern Kansas has 389 cake pans among its six branches.

The cake pan collections provide a valued service to community members, library officials say.

“It’s a great way for people who want to have a special cake, but they don’t want to go out and make a big purchase,” said Kathy Rippel, a consultant at the Central Kansas Library System in Great Bend.

“I think with the recession that started a couple of years ago, libraries began promoting these collections more and saying, ‘Hey, here are these things that we also have for you to use,'” said Tom Taylor, member library services coordinator at the South Central Kansas Library System, based in South Hutchinson.

The Great Bend Public Library had a few cake pans and provided free cake-decorating tips more than 25 years ago, said Terri Hurley, who retired last year as public relations director after 34 years at the library.

“We felt like it was a big help to the community at that time, especially in 1986, when there was nowhere else to get these pans,” Hurley said. “People would use a pan once and give it to the library, or find one at a sale and donate it. Once word got around, more people started using (the collection) and we kept getting more donations.”

The State Library of Kansas did not have information on how many libraries in the state have cake pan collections. In calls to the state’s seven regional library systems, The News found at least 32 libraries across Kansas with collections, although there could be more.

People who live in communities without a cake pan collection can ask about an interlibrary loan, Rippel said, adding that people can check the Kansas Library Catalog online to find cake pans in libraries that have catalogued their collections.