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March 20, 2013

Check it out: Va. library starts lending dolls

ARLINGTON, Va. — Saving for an American Girl doll might take months or even a year.

But now there's a way for local kids to bring one home without paying the $110 price tag. Beginning this month, anyone with an Arlington County, Va., library card can sign up to borrow one of eight dolls for a week.

"They're really expensive," said Julia Karell, branch manager at the Cherrydale Library in Arlington. "I hear kids talking about the dolls, and the parents say, 'No way.' "

Karell said she and other Arlington librarians recently read about a New York City library that was lending one of the dolls in American Girl's historical series and thought the idea would be popular in Arlington.

The Friends of the Arlington Public Library bought eight dolls: Josefina (whose character is from 1824), Marie-Grace and Cecile (1853), Addy (1864), Rebecca (1914), Molly (1944), and Julie and Ivy (1974). Librarians then created a kit that would accompany each doll: an American Girl book, a card with Arlington history related to the time period and a borrowers' journal.

"We thought it would be a good community-building experience," Karell said. "Girls could share the experiences they had with the dolls."

Youth service librarians will be in charge of the dolls and will clean them between borrowings. As with books, wear and tear on the dolls is expected over time, Karell said.

"I think that we're depending on the public to take care of the dolls," she said. "We understand that it's mostly kids who are going to be checking them out."

The lending program begins this week, but there's already a waiting list of more than 60 people for some of the dolls. You can get your name on the list for a doll the same way you would for a popular book.

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