The Library of Things currently offers seventy-four items on loan from their hub in Crystal Palace, South London, from drills to gazebos and waffle makers to tents. “Why buy when you can borrow?” Library of Things asks, highlighting that their borrowers and menders have diverted sixteen tonnes of landfill waste by avoiding buying and choosing to borrow instead. The Library offers a sharing economy that allows users to borrow things cheaply that they might otherwise buy at great expense only to stash in a cupboard to gather dust.
The Library of Things also emphasises that their borrowers are 60% more likely to repair or recycle their things using resources and tools available to them at the Library, encouraging a wider circular economy beyond the items on loan. With the newly-built kiosks, users can even reserve their items online and collect it from the Library of Things.
However, Library of Things offers more than just a lending service, it offers a community space. They regularly host workshops and events that offer opportunities for volunteers to share their skills and for visitors to learn new things and socialise with members of their local community. In a city where 55% of people say they feel lonely sometimes, Library of Things creates a space for community to thrive.
Library of Things Crystal Palace isn’t alone in this venture either. Members are joining the Library of Things movement and preparing to open their own libraries in their communities in a growing trend of sharing economies and community spaces in urban areas in the face of an environmental crisis, consumerism, and isolation.