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Library Launches Cake Pan Collection

The New Orleans Public Library has launched a new collection that allows cardholders to borrow professional-grade baking pans for up to three weeks at a time. 

The Cake Pan Collection lives at Rosa F. Keller Library & Community Center and features a variety of shapes and sizes –– including character pans like SpongeBob and Cinderella, as well as sets for cakes up to five tiers tall. 

Circulation and Customer Experience Librarian Heather Riley helped organize the collection, which she said aligns with two of the three pillars that make up the Library’s new strategic plan. 

“By giving our public access to professional products with which they can make something,  we’re hitting both the ‘ready workforce’ and the ‘open doors’ pillars of our strategic plan. With access to free, high-quality tools, we’re removing at least one financial barrier for home-bakers and small business owners,” Riley explained. “We’re also reimagining what a library is by circulating these unconventional materials, which is part of what we think it means to have open doors.”

With the ongoing pandemic causing people to stay home more, Riley also said the Cake Pan Collection is simply another way the Library is thinking outside the box to provide new and fun activities for their users. 

The pans in the collection were donated by Angela Wilson, the culinary arts chair at Delgado Community College and a self-proclaimed “library geek.” 

“People tend to give me cake pans. I don’t use them all too often myself; but, a few years ago, I started holding onto them and lending them out to my students or friends who needed a specific type of pan for a project. They’re expensive, and it’s a shame to have to go out and buy something you might only use once,” Wilson said. 

After a while, Wilson said her shed was getting full, so she started to brainstorm ways she could expand the reach of her informal cake pan lending library. 

“I knew that there were places where they started these tool libraries, where you can go and check tools out; and, I thought, ‘Why couldn’t we do that with cake pans?’” Wilson recalled. 

Inspired by the idea, Wilson talked to the staff at Cita Dennis Hubbell Library the next time she went in, planting the seed for the Cake Pan Collection. 

“This was probably a few months before COVID, so it’s taken a while to get it off the ground, but I’m so excited it’s finally happening,” Wilson said. “Now, I can direct my students to go to the Library next time they need something, which I love.” 

Mike Marina is a library associate and avid baker who worked with Riley to make the collection a reality.  

“I think it’s so great. I’m really excited about it,” Marina said. “We’ve been talking a lot about how this can be utilized for bakers building their small businesses, but I also think it has the potential to really benefit anyone who might just want to make something nice for their friend’s baby shower, or kid’s birthday party, or whatever the case might be.” 

Riley said she thinks the pans can seamlessly tie in with the Library’s other resources to help anyone interested in baking take their hobby to the next level. 

“We already have dozens of cookbooks about baking and cake decorating in our collection,” she said. “And with a Library card, you can get free access to Creativebug, which is a great online tool for learning new crafting and art skills. Plus, people can access the latest issues of magazines like ‘Bon Appetit’ or ‘Good Housekeeping’ with the Flipster e-resource to get new recipes and tips. So, really, there are tons of ways you can use your Library if you have an interest in cooking and baking, and the Cake Pan Collection is just one more thing.” 

Even more established bakers can benefit from the collection, including Wilson, who’s been a pastry chef for over two decades. 

“I will definitely use this as a resource, personally. If I ever need that six-inch heart pan again, I’ll just go get it from the Library” Wilson said. “I just think that these pans, they’ll be so much more useful at the Library than they ever were in my shed, even for me.” 

Cake pans are only available at the Rosa F. Keller Library & Community Center, and pans must be returned to the Keller Library during the Library’s regular hours of operation. Please review the Library’s Cake Pan Collection Borrowing Rules here before checking out or reserving any pans. The Library is not accepting additional donations at this time.