London’s Library of Things Lets You Borrow Hundreds of Items

Members of lending libraries can take out almost anything

Jan 30, 2020

Mother and child selecting toys in toy library. (ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com)

When you think of libraries you usually think of rows of bookcases filled with books of course. But libraries are not just confined to buildings anymore, they can range from a few shelves of books that pop-up on city streets, book mobiles, and even book boats. And sharing libraries like London's Library of Things, in the UK, lend a lot more than just books.

In an era where we can buy pretty much anything quickly and cheaply, in big box stores or by online shopping, borrowing and lending is not done that much anymore. How often do we borrow or lend things from our neighbors and coworkers anymore? How often do we need to?

In today’s post-modern world, however, the trend is returning, and the so-called sharing economy is once again finding its place in our society. One of the most known examples include city-wide bike share programs but people can borrow so much more.

Sharing libraries, where people can rent or take out various objects and gadgets, such as Go-Pro Cameras and ice-cream machines have popped up in several notable locations such as London, UK, Berlin, Germany, and Toronto, Canada according to the World Economic Forum.

London’s Library of Things offers a range of items that fit into categories such as adventure, cleaning, DIY, gardening, crafting, and hosting. Need a pasta maker? No problem! Depending on your membership you can take it out for free or for a nominal fee.

Annual membership fees range from $55 to $110. The more expensive membership allows you to borrow an item for a longer time and to take out several items simultaneously.

Members can take part in workshops such as eco-woodworking, chutney making, and mending. Suze Jones, who hosted a mending meet-up wrote on the website: “I come away from the sessions feeling recharged, often having arrived at them knackered after a long day at work.

These libraries are ideal for borrowing items that you don’t use frequently, such as a popcorn machine, board games, or camping equipment, which are all offered at Toronto Canada's Sharing Depot.

The Sharing Depot also has toys, which allow children to play with a wider range of new and interesting toys without the financial burden of purchasing many items. You can also donate your goods— if you have something large – their pick-up service will transport it from your house to the store.

The Lost Property clothing library in Fremantle, Australia is a new startup fashion closet where people can borrow fashion and vintage clothing. Sharing a wardrobe is much less wasteful tan having to buy the latest trends and you have the added benefit of many more outfits to choose from.

At Leila, Berlin’s borrowing shop launched in 2012, electric drills are borrowed more than any other item, reports the Guardian. Why buy an expensive tool if you can borrow it instead?

Many of the sharing sites that are springing up around the world also have online catalogues so you can easily browse and walk in knowing that you will find exactly what you need. Several of the lending libraries also have workshops and other community events where people can get to know each other and learn new skills.

Not only do these libraries help people save money, minimize clutter in the home but they are also good for the environment. According to the World Economic Forum, approximately 60 billion tons of raw materials are consumed every year; that's equivalent to the 41 times the weight of the Empire State Building!

A sharing economy is also a powerful social asset because it returns a certain degree of power back to the community. People can profit by sharing what they already own, and others can save money by borrowing instead of buying. Goods stay inside a circular motion of consumption, being passed from one person to the next, instead of the conventional and unsustainable linear model that forces people to purchase new goods.

When you belong to London's Library of Things or any other lending library, you are supporting your neighbors, building a sense of community, and consuming sustainably. 

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The Lost Property Clothing Library Make Fashion More Sustainable
At The Library Of Things, You Can Borrow Almost Anything

HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.