TODAY | August 25, 2013
>>> for millions of people reading books on kindles, ipads and nooks has local libraries branching out to keim up in a digital world .
>> reporter: when ralph goes to the grosse pointe public library outside detroit, it's not always for a book.
>> i have a time reserved.
>> reporter: that's right, a tool. a tree trimmer. he says it's a better deal than owning one. and if you bought that, how often would you use it?
>> well, that's the point. you'd only use it maybe once a year.
>> reporter: here at the grosse pointe library there are 285 tools to borrow. everything from "a," an adjustable wrench to, "x," an xacto wrench. libraries aren't just for books anymore. dvds are common on library shelves but this library in illinois has things to make digital videos, flip cams, laptops, and small video cameras . so i can put it on my head. that you can wear.
>> we have people using a go pro camera for extreme stuff.
>> reporter: librarians say it's all about meeting the needs of their communities in a world that's shifting from the printed world to digital content. in ann arbor , michigan, that means offering things that can't be downloaded like telescopes and steel drums . kids are drawn to the moususical tools like electronic synthesizers. some chicago public libraries offer a quieter attraction for kids, fishing poles. at the sherman parks branch on the city's south side , cameron and jeremiah cooke don't have to go far to use them. the lagoon behind the library is stocked with catfish and blue gil.
>> i like coming to fish here because it's quiet and nice and relaxing.
>> reporter: but at the same time exciting.
>> it's like a rush through your blood. it's like you don't know what's going to happen next.
>> reporter: just like reading a good book.
>> you got a bite.
>> reporter: for "today" john yang , nbc news.