THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

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leenewham
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THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by leenewham »

There is some really interesting stuff going on in other areas. Like this:

"Library of Things is a local space where people can borrow useful items whenever they need them - a power drill, a barbecue or a suitcase for example. This saves people money and brings people together in a friendly place close to where they live".

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/li ... ops-to-the

I think it's an excellent idea.

mosy
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by mosy »

Excellent idea. Who pays though?
How would running costs, like cleaning/repair/qualified servicing/replacement parts and overheads (rent & rates) be paid, even assuming no wages? A small fee for a week's use implies an ongoing need for donations or other financial support doesn't it? Are they hoping it would be taken on by the council, like the somewhat simpler toy library? Are you privvy to their business plan? The legal indemnity cost alone would have me shaking in my shoes if hiring out electricals.

leenewham
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by leenewham »

I don't know.

I just thought it was a good idea and worth sharing but next time I don't think I will bother posting it here.

Rachael
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by Rachael »

mosy wrote:Excellent idea. Who pays though?
How would running costs, like cleaning/repair/qualified servicing/replacement parts and overheads (rent & rates) be paid, even assuming no wages? A small fee for a week's use implies an ongoing need for donations or other financial support doesn't it? Are they hoping it would be taken on by the council, like the somewhat simpler toy library? Are you privvy to their business plan? The legal indemnity cost alone would have me shaking in my shoes if hiring out electricals.
I would guess that there are different legal requirements if you are lending things rather than hiring them out. I think something like this would work very well virtually - if there was a website for people to register the things they are willing to lend, and requests for things they want to borrow, rather than holding a physical stock in one location, which, as you say, would attract costs. You could run it like a club so you'd know who people are, that they are local, and not liable to run off with the goods.

somerandombloke
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by somerandombloke »

leenewham wrote:I don't know.

I just thought it was a good idea and worth sharing but next time I don't think I will bother posting it here.
Atually i think its a great idea. It certainly works in Dublin where you can borrow all sorts of stuff from librarys. Differnt librarys have different things in them my Aunties local library does like pictures to hang on youir wall you can have one for a month at a time.

chrisj1948
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by chrisj1948 »

leenewham wrote:I don't know.

I just thought it was a good idea and worth sharing but next time I don't think I will bother posting it here.
It was worth posting, Lee, because it is an interesting idea. Mosy's points were unfortunately valid ones. In our H&S / litigation culture an unfunded scheme of this sort would require the participants to sign up to an agreement that they alone were responsible for all consequences of use, and I am not sure if such an agreement is legally possible :-(

Regards
Chris

Tim Lund
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by Tim Lund »

Lee - it's an excellent idea, and please continue to post here.

Don't be cross with Mosy for asking such a question, and don't be cross with me either for taking it further.

The idea seems to me an obvious extension of the idea of a community car club, and has all the same common sense behind it as they have. I thought I'd posted previously about them, but ATM I can't find where, if I did. It was something I heard about in my more transport activist days, in the late '90s, and it just struck me as obvious - so why weren't they happening now? Thinking it through, such difficult objections as Mosy's occurred to me, as well as my awareness that community organisations are not easy to manage to deliver a reliable service; there are reasons why it's often better to do things commercially. There's also another problem with cars, in that the are very identiy and value laden goods - people have cars to say something about themselves, and branding in cars does much more than assure you, as maybe Bosch does when buying a power tool, that you are getting good value. We got into all that in another thread

Zipcar, Google and some investment ideas

But inspite of all these problems, and many people's evident reservations, commercial versions of car clubs are steadily expanding - here's something from the FT last week

London’s car-sharing scene gets bigger

Image

If
We want to bring a Library of Things to every high street in the UK, to make the sharing economy a reality for ordinary people.
then we should ask ourselves why it's not happening already, and, more positively, who there is on our High Street with whom we would want to work in partnership to help make it happen.

On the first, I suspect it's largely a matter of time, thanks to new smart apps and the general growth of the - commercial - sharing economy - businesses such as AirBnB and Uber. From the looks of the Library of Things team, I wonder if it's also generational - not only are the 20 somethings readier to adopt the sharing economy, but they also have less disposable income, and just cannot afford to go out to buy a new Bosch power drill as I did recently, and which in principle I could lend out. The younger generation needs this sort of service more.

On the second, my thoughts immediately turn to Sydenham DIY - it's a brilliant, established local shop, which wouldn't be in competition with the Library of Things, so could be a useful partner with marketing and advice for Library of Things customers. But how easy would it be to explain the concept, and get their buy in? My other thought, given the mention of gardeing on the Library of Things web site
We met Mo when we ran our first Library of Things in a public library last year. Mo was a pensioner from an estate nearby who liked gardening, DIY and telling us stories about his childhood.

Each week, Mo would come in to borrow one of our items - one week a strimmer, then garden shears and and the next week, a power washer.

He had a small garden that he loved tending to but was sick and tired of heading to his local garden centre, forced to buy something he was only going to use once or twice a year.
is that Mo here is an independent local gardener, which the #gadeningse26 thread is intended to support. A Library of Things in an area might also consider linking up with other local professional gardeners, and also help them cooperate among themselves.

Tim Lund
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by Tim Lund »

chrisj1948 wrote:
leenewham wrote:I don't know.

I just thought it was a good idea and worth sharing but next time I don't think I will bother posting it here.
It was worth posting, Lee, because it is an interesting idea. Mosy's points were unfortunately valid ones. In our H&S / litigation culture an unfunded scheme of this sort would require the participants to sign up to an agreement that they alone were responsible for all consequences of use, and I am not sure if such an agreement is legally possible :-(

Regards
Chris
As Lee knows - he designed the tee-shirt - I had a similar idea myself re gardening some years ago, but got serious cold feet following some friendly advice from a barrister, for similar reasons.

It's the sort of thing a local authority should be able to help with, in the way they help commercial car shares by reserving parking spaces for them. Obviously there wouldn't be any money on offer, but imaginative Councillors and officers (they do exist) might be able to help with temporary premises, which would the Library would have a strong interested in keeping in good repair, as well as promoting it through channels, in the case of Lewisham, such as Lewisham Life. The legal department might also be able to offer come advice too.

robbieduncan
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by robbieduncan »

It's not clear how such a library would undercut existing business who exist in a competitive environment. You can already rent most things. Machine Mart for example rent pretty much any tool or hardware you can want.

leenewham
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by leenewham »

The point is, and I made it in an earlier post, that is we think ideas are good, and want to transfer them here, they need to be nurtured, supported, encouraged and fed.

If we hit them from birth with every obstacle, then they will wither and die.

If we support the idea, shape it and make it work, it will flourish.

Tim Lund
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by Tim Lund »

robbieduncan wrote:It's not clear how such a library would undercut existing business who exist in a competitive environment. You can already rent most things. Machine Mart for example rent pretty much any tool or hardware you can want.
Excellent point - the sort of market testing suggesting by my asking earlier why it wasn't happening already - seems like in some way it is. Call it competitor analysis.

As to your question, the answer has to be because the people lending would not expect to be paid, just compensated for loss or damage. In the language of micro economics, the business model is that it expands the supply of tools and other equipment available for hire, and with it brings down the price. To see whether this would be enough, you'd want to find out if there were Machine Mart branches or equivalent where the schemes have worked (they mention somewhere in Berlin).

They would also need to keep data, eg. reputation scores, on lenders and borrowers, which I'd imagine can be done, but probably best with a system already developed and tested elsewhere.
Last edited by Tim Lund on 4 Jun 2015 15:52, edited 1 time in total.

Tim Lund
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by Tim Lund »

leenewham wrote:The point is, and I made it in an earlier post, that is we think ideas are good, and want to transfer them here, they need to be nurtured, supported, encouraged and fed.

If we hit them from birth with every obstacle, then they will wither and die.

If we support the idea, shape it and make it work, it will flourish.
Sorry Lee, but just because you think an idea is good, it doesn't mean every one else has to agree. A decent idea will get over obstacles, and no entrepreneour, social or otherwise, who lets themselves stay discouraged by negative feedback is going to succeed.

Take this I posted yesterday as an example

Let's talk about local Wordpress sites

where you can see Admin's negative feedback somewhat discouraged me. However, it's an area where I recognise he knows and understands many things I do not, but it is still worth talking about - as I did with Admin this morning. I'll come back to it in due course.

leenewham
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by leenewham »

Why have bookshops when you can borrow any book in a library?

Why have libraries when you can buy any book they lend?

Why have internet cafes when you can get free internet access in a library?

Why have cafes when you can make a perfectly nice cup of tea at home?

Why have black cabs when you have Uber?

Some people want to buy stuff, some people want to borrow stuff. Some people like a sense of community, some people like B&Q, some prefer Homebase, others prefer screwfix, others prefer Wickes. Some people prefer one branch of Wickes to another.

The point is (I'm making enough of these today) that if you want something, or like an idea, solve the problems, don't use the problems to kill the idea. I think there dis a place for a library of things, be it tools, toys, computers, typewriters, camera equipment or even local people who can help with knowledge.

I wonder if we can brainstorm on here in a positive way how to overcome the various obstacles. I hope what my gut is saying is wrong. It would be good to get some new voices with some really positive, forward thinking ideas on here on this, or any other ideas that might make the area better.

Rachael
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by Rachael »

Lee - we think it's a GOOD idea. The discussion is not intended to kill it, but to work out how to make it possible. To do that, you have to find the obstacles and work out how to get around them. That's not negativity. That positive and practical.

JMLF
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by JMLF »

I guess the way I feel about this is that it's just 2 sides of the same coin and a matter of different ways of approaching the topic and how it's put across in writing. For some people it's - I have an idea, how can we do it - which in this case would include what type of record keeping system would work, whether things would be requested or physically they would be readily available at a set location each month etc..
Whereas for some it's - I have an idea, what problems are we going to have, what about this potential issue etc..
I guess in one respect you could view one way as more positive than the other and feedback of positive ideas from the off rather than possible barriers (to kickstart positive problem solving ideas) is better for some (me included!). Anyways, that aside here are my basic off the top of my head ideas for good or bad!

Personally it's a matter of common sense and value of items. I would happily lend an unknown member of the community an item which if lost/broken/stolen wouldn't be of a huge value to me (monetary or other) - a chunky DIY book, hammers, brushes etc. Maybe I just wish community spirits and neighbourhoods were slighty more like how they were in my head before I was born (I'm 31) - open doors, borrowing sugar etc!

I use a bookswapping service (bookmooch) whereby you look at people's lists, request a book they want rid of. You use points (you gather from sending books to others) and then They send it to you. It's quite a simple system that is based on trust.

I wonder if somer hung similar would work - you list the things you are willing to lend, someone can request them from you, you then go to their residence to drop it off and after pick it up (supporting some safety/knowledge of where the person you are lending it to is) and feedback is given for each borrow in a small comment or something - "returned cleaner than loaned out!", "borrowed and returned quickly".

If you want to borrow something, than you obviously get the benefit back of having the item dropped off/picked up and you are undertaking any risk associated with the choice to give out your address in return for borrowing said item.

Apologies for the essay but think it's not a bad rough basis for some potential scheme.

mosy
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by mosy »

According to the link for The Library of Things, the three creators already know how they expect it will work based on models they've assessed elsewhere and tried. They're not short of brains or direction it seems and already have had Lambeth BC on board it says. On legal, they say they've asked for "package" quotes, i.e. a combination of some responsibility taken by the lender and some by the borrower. The £12,000 funding requested is for six months (pie chart given of anticipated expenditure). It's a non-profit company limited by guarantee. I assume they've sussed out the admin burden as franchising is suggested as their greater vision.

Not sure why leenewham said "I don't know" since it's all there (albeit not the easiest website to navigate). I guess it's easier just to float an idea in general rather than asking for monetary support for an already existing thought-out proposition. There's a Contact Me on which I assume anyone can leave suggestions.

It makes sense that the creators hope to reach a wider audience by going through Kickstarter to get pledges, even if it charges a fee. Have any supporters made a pledge to them yet, since what they seem to need most is money.

Has anyone ever pledged via Kickstarter? (Usual security thoughts.)

The thing about all such ideas as this is that people do need to set it up and administer it and be responsible.

somerandombloke
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by somerandombloke »

mosy wrote:Has anyone ever pledged via Kickstarter?
Yeah i put £50 towardfs a really lovely book about New Romantics. I got copy 3 and you can see me and my sister in the background of one of the photos of Carnaby St in 1983

mosy
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by mosy »

How lovely somerandombloke :) Oh sorry, should have said cool given you & sis have rather more than 5 mins of fame and a great treasure to keep.

Good to know you're OK with Kickstarter too.

somerandombloke
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by somerandombloke »

mosy wrote:How lovely somerandombloke :) Oh sorry, should have said cool given you & sis have rather more than 5 mins of fame and a great treasure to keep.

Good to know you're OK with Kickstarter too.
I think Kickstarteer an exellent idea. This is the book by the way:- http://www.amazon.co.uk/We-Can-Heroes-G ... 1908717653

robbieduncan
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Re: THE LIBRARY OF THINGS

Post by robbieduncan »

mosy wrote:Has anyone ever pledged via Kickstarter? (Usual security thoughts.)
Yes an I am expecting my copy of Exploding Kittens in the next few months (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/el ... ng-kittens). The whole process was secure and well managed. I do remember some Kickstarter projects burning through all the money pledged with nothing to show for it when Kickstarter was a new thing but they've tightened the rules since then to try and prevent that.

Back to the LoT: I did not realise it was more of a peer-to-peer concept. That makes more sense as the startup costs will be much lower. I need to read the site but what prevents "freeloaders"?

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