What do we stock?
We like our Things to be useful or joyful, and preferably both.
We have 5 categories:
- Adventuring & Hobbying, think GoPros & sewing machines
- Cleaning, think carpet cleaners & pressure washers
- Cooking & Hosting, think gazebos & waffle makers
- DIY, think drills & ladders
- Gardening, think lawnmowers & hedge trimmers
See everything we've got to borrow on our website here: https://www.libraryofthings.co.uk/catalogue
How we choose which Things to stock?
We have 3 criteria to help us decide:
- Demand: With 18 months of testing at our demo site in West Norwood, we learnt what people borrow and what they don’t. We then combined these learnings with the community wishlisting that happened during the crowdfund to decide our final 52 Things. Want to suggest something, let us know here?
- Maintenance: we need Things that are easy to pass from borrower-to-borrower with as few issues as possible.
- Storage: we have limited space, so we prioritise Things based on demand.
Can I request a Thing?
We're always happy to hear suggestions from our borrowers!
We can't promise that'll we'll stock what you're after, as we have to factor in the criteria above and because of that we can't give you a timeframe as to when we might get it either.
As we launch new sites, we'll invite borrowers to vote on the Things they want to borrow so you'll get a say then.
With existing sites, we'll open 'wishlisting' once or twice a year when we're thinking about new Things to stock.
However you're most welcome to suggest Things in the mean time (as we take this into consideration when making shortlists for Things borrowers can vote on.)
Where do we get our Things from?
We want to encourage more and more people to borrow so we lend out the best Things we can source. This is why we build relationships directly with manufacturers and top brands like Bosch and Karcher. We can also negotiate warranties and feedback to make products better. We make sure we test everything before we make it available to borrowers to make sure it's suitable for borrowing.
Why we don’t take donations on all our Things?
We learnt this the hard way.
- Donated Things don’t come with warranties. Meaning once they’re broken beyond simple repairs, they’re broken for good.
- Donated Things often only last a few borrows before breaking. This is a problem not only for us, creating a backlog of bookings, but imagine how frustrating it is for the person it breaks on.
- We’re trying to help everyone to borrow, rather than buy. For many people that’s only attractive if it’s Things in a great condition.
- It’s hard to say no. Sounds silly, but it’s true. In the past, we’ve ended up with piles of Things that we couldn’t lend out.
What can I do with Things you want to give a second life?
- You can bring them along to a repair party, check our events listings for more detail.
- You can come along to one of our swap shops to exchange it with someone else in the community, see our events listings for more details of the next one.
- Or try one of these places:
- Local Facebook buy + sell groups like Things for free in Crystal Palace and surrounding areas
- Emmaus on Knights Hill
What happens to broken Things?
- Do your bit by flagging necessary repairs when you borrow.
- A team of Thing Fixers check our Things weekly and ad-hoc to make sure small repairs happen.
- We develop relationships with our suppliers to help with more complex repairs.
If broken beyond repair, we have 3 after-life options for our Things:
- Things that are working, but aren't in a borrowable state, are donated either to local charities or individuals.
- Unfixable Things are recycled at the local Recycling Centre.
- We're in talks with manufacturers about returning Things for remanufacturing parts.
Where has the lawnmower/wet and dry vacuum cleaner/other Things gone?
When we installed our new kiosk, it was a good time to review the Things we were lending out.
Because the space has changed, we had to prioritise some Things over others, so those Things that weren't get borrowed on a regular basis or were too difficult to maintain came low in the pecking order to include.
This means unfortunately for now we've had to say goodbye to the lawnmower, the wet & dry vacuum cleaner, the party starter kit, the sing-along jukebox, the loppers, the wheelchair, the fold-up table, the table tennis set, the sack barrow, the garden trowel and a few of the small tools.
For some of these, we're looking for alternatives that are easier to maintain or more compact/more suitable for the kiosk, and some of the others will be included on our next wishlist with borrowers.