For three years, alongside Ethical Revolution, I became manager of SHARE:Frome – the UK’s first ever high street Library of Things. An inspirational lady named Anna Francis saw a similar project in Berlin and brought the idea back to ol’ Blighty. It became a beacon for other such sharing libraries around the country and, alongside my friends at Oxford Library of Things and Crystal Palace Library of Things, we created a UK network for sharing. Within that network there are now dozens of thriving sharing libraries up and down the country.
One of the messages we had on the wall was:
“The average drill is used for only 13 minutes in its entire lifetime.”
Think about that for a moment. Think about the amount of carbon emissions used to manufacture the product. Think about waste disposal. Think of the value of that compared with the use it gets. Then imagine the difference in that value if instead of a whole street owning a drill each, they all shared one! That is what a Library of Things / Lending Library / Tool Library offers. Springing up all of the time there is a good chance there is now one near you. Check out this starter list of sharing libraries I put together for Ethical Consumer Magazine, or search online to see if there’s one nearby!
A Library of Things works like a normal library: you sign up as a member and borrow items you need. It can be ANYTHING: tents and camping gear, disco items, DIY and gardening tools and machinery, household and kitchen items … the list keeps going. By borrowing instead of buying people save money, with those who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford certain items getting easy access (think of a projector for a film night, a gazebo for a garden party or a thermal imaging camera to help find less well insulated places in your home); the environmental impact is huge with literally tons and tons saved on greenhouse gas emissions, raw material usage and manufacturing use by sharing instead of owning; people save space in their homes; a community connection is forged, giving people a sense of belonging and pride in what they’re achieving together.
If you don’t have a Library of Things near you why not hook up with a few friends and see what you can share between you. Or why not speak to other members of the community and see if there is any scope to start a Library of Things for your area. There will be plenty of help on offer in terms of resources and experience from the existing LoTs if you do!
I’ve put together a little page from my time at SHARE:Frome to show the stats around the positive impact a Library of Things can have. Read that here.