Lending libraries are for more than just books…
You may have seen a lending library in your own neighborhood. You know, those cute little boxes stuffed full of books, free for the taking. Some communities are taking the idea a few steps further by pooling together by creating lending libraries for other items. Ever borrow a cup of sugar from a neighbor? Imagine that on a much larger scale.
Best Items to Use for Community Lending Libraries
The only limit to building a community lending library is your own imagination. The best items to lend are those that consume a lot of resources to own individually. A lot of resources are consumed when we take a quick trip to the store for a simple item. Some of these may include:
- Gardening Equipment — Shears, Lawnmowers, Leaf-Blowers, Gloves. Why have 15 lawnmowers in the neighborhood?
- Kitchen Equipment — Bread Machines, Blenders, Extra Dishes & Cutlery for Events. These items often sit in cupboards for long periods of time.
- Car Maintenance Equipment — Ice Scrapers, Car Washing Tools, Vacuums. Why drive across town to the automated car wash?
- Home Repair Equipment — Screwdrivers, Drills, Spackle, Glue. Sometimes, you need these tools for a few minutes to make minor repairs.
- First-Aid & Medical Equipment — Wheelchairs, Crutches, First-Aid. This is especially helpful for senior living.
- Non-Perishable Food — Canned & Dry Items. Save your neighbors a trip to the store for some simple items.
Forming a Community Lending Library Committee
There will need to be structure when forming a lending library of this magnitude. Think of it as a neighborhood watch for sustainability. Depending on the cost of the equipment and the group’s size, you may opt to have members sign agreements outlining circumstances where a damaged item will need to be replaced by the person who borrowed it.
You will also need to decide whether people will pay a small per-use fee or all-inclusive dues. Funds should be set aside to pay for the replacement, maintenance/repairs, or equipment upgrading. To maximize your community lending library’s success, funds should be deposited into a trust and interest-bearing savings account. In time, this will help ensure your library will stay well-maintained and even grow!