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You can search the Library of Things website to see what is available to borrow

The Library of Things

The Library of Things makes so much common sense. For example, if you need a power tool for a job, how brilliant that you could borrow one and not have to buy one which subsequently isn’t used till the next job comes up maybe in a few years’ time. HOT’s Zelly Restorick spoke to Library of Things co-ordinator and core librarian, Shelley Feldman, to find out how it works.


Who came up with the idea for a Library of Things?

A volunteer from another project went to a conference and came back talking about a Library Of Things. No-one was available at that time to bring it together. They exist all over the world – and all over this country. London Library Of Things gave a talk at the Common Treasury about two years ago.

The main people to have got it going are me and a guy called Paolo, who did the planning, preparation and research. We pulled in other people who helped with other parts of the project, like writing our liability waiver. Everyone who works here is a volunteer.

Jig saw

How does it work?

People join the library by becoming a member and getting a Library of Things card. It’s all online. Then we have an online inventory site which you can browse through, choose what you want to borrow, reserve the dates you want it – and then come to the Library of Things to collect. You use whatever it is you’ve borrowed and then bring it back, where it’s checked over and cleaned and repaired if necessary. We rely on people to tell us how things are functioning, especially with the power tools. Most of this is done online, but people do walk in and ask the librarian to help them choose things on the days we’re open.

The Library of Things is open to everybody. We ask for an address and phone number. There’s no means testing. We have a flat fee to join of £3 per year. We want people to join, so they feel a part of something. You give your contact details and sign up to our Borrower’s Agreement. When you come to collect stuff, we ask for photo ID, although we’re aware not everyone has a passport or driving licence and we don’t want to exclude people. Most people have something to show where they live. We don’t demand two pieces of photo ID. This is one of our principles, that we want there to be a sense of dignity and ownership at The Library of Things.

We know it’s not currently perfect – and we’re really willing to have feedback, ideas, suggestions and insights from people.

Folding wheelchair

What sort of things can people borrow?

There’s a whole wide range of things – power tools and DIY stuff; a tombola, lots and lots of bunting, a badge maker and a couple of folding tables for community groups; camping gear; kitchen equipment – the bigger things you only use once in a while like a giant stock pot, a jam maker; two wheelchairs and crutches, which we thought might never be used, but surprisingly they’ve been really popular. The full inventory is online and so you can check to see what we have and if it’s available for when you need it.

How long can someone have something on loan?

Normally a week, but with jigsaw puzzles, our wheelchairs and the crutches, we offer a month and after that, it’s negotiable.

Whereabouts are you based?

In the Common Room at Eagle House, opposite ESK- it used to be Daltons – 27-29 Cambridge Road.

Shelley Feldman, the visionary behind Hastings’ Library of Things

When is the Library of Things open?

Tuesday, 12–2pm, which is our delivery day too. We offer free delivery for those who’d really find it hard to get to the Library of Things (e.g. delivery of a wheelchair) and Friday and Saturday, 12–4pm.

We want a cargo bike of our own so we can do more deliveries. All our delivery people are volunteers too. We’re checking to see what demand there is for this… it’s difficult for some people in some areas of the town to get here, collect their item and and carry it back home, e.g. to Hollington or Ore Village.

Do you want donations?

Potentially, but at the moment just power tools and camping equipment. We ask people to email us to see if what they have to offer is a lendable item – or we suggest somewhere else. We can only take things that work!

What happens if someone borrows something and it gets damaged or breaks?

Things that have been donated are not brand new and won’t last forever – and someone is going to be using it when it breaks although they didn’t break it. If something is broken, we replace or repair it. No-one has wilfully broken anything and I doubt they ever will. One woman came in to borrow some bolt cutters which broke, and they insisted on buying new bolt cutters for us, which wasn’t necessary, but a lovely example of someone supporting the project.

Are you looking for volunteers?

So we can do more sessions, we’d like more librarians and to train up a few more people to cover the odd Saturday and regularly on Thursdays.

We have four core librarians already, who basically check the reservations to see if anyone’s booked something out – and help passing-by people. The more volunteers we have, the more sessions we have, and the more people might use the Library.

It would suit someone who likes talking to people and can use the computer software – with training – and who can make a long-term commitment.

We have people who do the fixing and communications.

If anyone is a good fund-raiser, that would also be great.

What are you hoping to do this year?

Make our space more visible and accessible. Our system is mostly online and the things are stored in cupboards: we want to have a more visible space, where we could, for example, have toys on a shelf for people to see and choose and take away.

We’d like to build a better website that makes it easier for people to find out about us and get involved.

And we’d like a delivery bike and wagon.

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Posted 00:17 Saturday, Jun 18, 2022 In: Local News

1 Comment

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  1. kenneth davis

    This is an absolutely brilliant idea and much needed in Hastings. I do hope the team at Library of Things continues to grow and be supported.

    Comment by kenneth davis — Monday, Jun 20, 2022 @ 07:22

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