Library of Things. Don’t tell me – it’s a philosophy salon in Shoreditch?
It’s much more grounded than that. LoT is a new social enterprise based in Upper Norwood Library that allows people to borrow house and garden tools, cooking utensils and even the odd ukulele.
Sounds good. But how does it work?
The founders wanted to create a resource for the community and managed to crowdfund £9,000 to get started. Many new items were donated or bought at a discount from brands like Bosch and Kärcher. Hire costs start at £1 a day for a hammer, £20 for a carpet cleaner, and so on. All funds go to the library’s upkeep, and there are special rates for people out of work or on low incomes. Library volunteers hold DIY demos, too, so you can learn to use the ‘things’, such as a cordless drill.
Where did the idea come from?
Uni friends Emma Shaw and Bex Trevalyan were inspired by product ‘libraries’ in cities like Berlin and Toronto and decided to set up a pilot in West Norwood in 2014. Bex was a co-producer of the People’s Fridge initiative in Brixton, so she’s good at making things happen.
But Upper Norwood is miles out! I might as well forget DIY and go to Majorca.
How dare you speak ill of SE19! Okay, it’s a schlep for some. But nine more Libraries of Things are planned across the city by 2021 and the next one’s mooted for north of the river. That means no more ignoring that wobbly Billy bookcase and mangled light fixtures. Reluctant DIY-ers of London: get out there and do your thing. Upper Norwood Library Hub. Crystal Palace Overground. Mon-Sat. Pay as you go from £1, membership from £15. Find out more here.