Library of Things: Borrowing culture encourages sense of community and reduces waste

Social enterprise Library of Things is providing locals of south London’s West Norwood the opportunity to borrow items and equipment – including DIY and garden tools – rather than owning things they are likely to only use once or twice.

Among the items on loan at the Library of Things are power tools, kitchenware,  camping gear, carpet cleaners, a dehumidifier, wallpaper stripper and an acoustic guitar.

Library of Things, which is housed inside two shipping containers in West Norwood, was set up to offer a money saving scheme for locals that also reduces waste and encourages neighbours to meet each other.

Membership is free and a catalogue of what’s on offer can be found online. Under the Library of Things’ T&Cs, members can borrow up to five things for up to one week and pay between 50p and £10 depending on the item.

Library of Things is also a space where people can borrow useful items and learn how to use them.

Library of Things originally started in a public library in 2014. Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, it moved into its present space of shipping containers outside Community Shop in West Norwood last summer.

The project is run by social entrepreneurs Rebecca Trevalyan, Sophia Wyatt and Emma Shaw. The team has secured funding from the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) to help five teams around the UK build a Library of Things where they are.

As a movement Library of Things are opening up worldwide by local people in their local areas. These lending and borrowing spaces give people access to a huge variety of items – everything from home decoration tools, board games, party supplies, kitchen appliances, turntables, clothing and tents – without the need for ownership.

In Canada, Toronto Public Library in Parkdale offer locals a Musical Instrument Lending Library service, with more than 100 instruments, including guitars, ukuleles, drums, violins, keyboards, a banjo, and a mandolin for borrowing.

Instruments may be borrowed for three weeks, with two renewals, giving library patrons the opportunity to keep the instrument for up to nine weeks. This allows for  library lenders to see if a musical instrument resonates with them.

California’s Sacramento Public Library offers items on loan that includes sewing machines, musical instruments and video games. The items in the Library of Things were chosen in a voting process by Sacramento Public Library patrons and funded by a Library Services and Technology Act grant administered through the California State Library.

This type of sharing culture is also encouraging a strong sense of community, and such movements are proving to be instrumental in bringing locals together.

Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer specialising in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com

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