October 9, 2023
Top tips for starting a Library of Things
Are you toying with the idea that borrowing could well be better than buying?
Coming round to the idea that a Library of Things could work in your community? Thinking “Yes, I can do this……. But where do I start”?
Well, this is the blog post for you!
Check out our top things to consider for those at the early stages of their libraries of things journey!
One person can change the world, but we can do so much more if we work as a team! Getting a Library of Things started can be a lot of work, so remember the adage - many hands make light work. Also, the more people you can get involved, the more likely it is that together, you can build something that really works for your community. Friends and family not interested? How about reaching out on local social media groups and see if you can build a team of like-minded people from there. Need a constitution or partnership agreement for your group of organisation – remember, Benthyg are here to help with that.
Libraries of things are all about community, and if you’re going to build it, make sure people will come! The earlier you can get the community involved the better. Shout out for people who want to sit on a steering group, ask people how they want their library of things to look, what items they have to borrow etc. Community consultation may sound dull but make it a conversation and start it as early as possible, and you may be surprised by the response!
Theoretically you could start a library of things from a cupboard, but realistically having some kind of base of location for your LoT helps. You’ll need storage, space to receive stuff, space to PAT test and potentially repair stuff and space to where people can collect and drop off their borrows. There’s no hard and fast rule about this, across Wales LoT’s are run from all sorts of locations including shops, public libraries and even a bus! But getting some kind of space to run your project from is a must.
Policies and procedures
Managing risk is essential for any libraries of things and you really need to have the right policies and procedures in place. But worry not – Benthyg can help with this. All network members can access template documents to help them get the right procedures in place.
This is a MUST, and we’d recommend you get going on this asap, it can take a while to get confirmation that your insurer is happy for you to lend items. They’ll probably want to know more about what kind of items you’re looking to lend out, and what your processes are for managing risk – we can’t stress how important point no 4 is!
Theoretically you could set up a volunteer led LoT full of donations without any money, but realistically, you do need some cash. Two essentials which you’ll need to spend on are insurance, and a borrowing platform. If you can get enough cash together to employ someone to do a lot of the legwork, then better still!
Clearly you can’t having a Library of Things without things. We’re all about sustainability and community – so sourcing ‘things’ as donations would be our top tip – it's all about sharing resources at the end of the day. But there may well be things you need to buy – so think sustainable: buy second hand, buy local, buy ethical. And we’re always there to give you some advice if you need us!
Last but most definitely not least, remember that we’re here to support you on your journey. The Benthyg team have been there before, they’ve done it, they’ve learnt, and now they’re sharing. And as part of our Benthyg membership you also get invited to our Network Meetings, an opportunity to meet other LoT’s, share ideas, tips and frustrations! See, we’re all about team work! 😉
Do you feel ready to take the next step and dip into starting your very own library of things? Get in touch with us here to set up a chat with one of our development officers!