When you think of a library you perhaps think of a large room full of books, a place where you can borrow a book and then return it after you’ve read it.
Libraries don’t just need to stock books, they can be made up of anything. Library of Things (LoTs) are libraries of useful things, things we need to use, things like pressure washers, wallpaper strippers, and camping equipment.
While borrowing has been going on for as long as humans have been alive (probably), it was the Global financial crisis in 2008 which saw a real push to start creating or re-discovering alternative economic models.
Models based not on buying stuff but sharing what we already have. Tool libraries and a library of things aren’t new ideas, but they are ideas which saw a new breath of life following our most recent period of great financial uncertainty.
Sharecycle is Teesside’s first LoT, based in Middlesbrough but for all the Teesside area; we started mainly as an activist library.
Teesside is full of amazing activists doing brilliant work but like most activist groups, funds are tight and many just don’t have the money to buy new equipment.
What if we could have a bank of equipment that any activist could dip in to when needed?
We extended the idea to make items available for any person living in Teesside but it’s the same principle. If there is equipment you want to use but don’t particularly want to buy, we may have it, and if we don’t have it and there’s demand, we’d try and get it.
By opening a LoT in Middlesbrough, we hope to become part of the changing conversation about our spending and owning habits.
Do we really need to own all the things we use?
Wouldn’t it be better to save our money and reduce clutter by having a shared library of useful things?
Many of us have drills, pressure washers, wallpaper strippers and the like, but these items are rarely used and end up sitting in a loft or a cupboard. They’re being under-used by us and over-produced by manufacturers.
At Sharecycle we think this needs to change.
If we could share a pressure washer in a community it could be used by hundreds of people. Then we’re all saving money through not having to buy our own pressure washers, we’re freeing up space in our own homes, and we’re reducing our consumption.
LoTs and tool libraries may sound like a radical idea, and it may seem strange to switch from owning things to borrowing them, and you may wonder if this idea will catch on.
But consider, at one point we didn’t have the NHS, and one point we didn’t have state run schools.
Many things we have now which are ‘normal,’ and part of our infrastructure started off as a new and radical idea. We can make Library of Things our new normal, we can change our consumer habits.
Sharecycle has purchased some items for its inventory, but it is reliant on donations from the generous people in our community.
Please get in touch with us via our website https://www.teesconnectors.org.uk/sharecycle.
In particular we are looking for tools, power tools, gardening equipment and outdoor toys and activities.
We are also very keen on talking to activists in the Teesside area.
What are the things you need but might not want to buy?