The Library of Things
The Library of Things
In January 2015 Slovenia got its first Library of Things, established in the Savsko naselje (housing estate) Local Community Centre. This special library, where its members can borrow various useful items instead of books (tools, sports equipment, toys, home appliances, etc.), is a result of a collaborative effort by ProstoRož, Slovenia Coworking, the City of Ljubljana, and the Regional Development Agency of Ljubljana Urban Region (RRA LUR) with invaluable participation by the local community.
The initial idea for providing new content to the local community centre and developing new services for the Savsko naselje neighbourhood residents, as well as other citizens of Ljubljana, led to researching international good practices as well as the local needs. A Library of Things stood out as the content with tremendous potential not only for fostering social capital at the neighbourhood level (through coincidental run-ins or event organization), but also for enabling individuals to use items they might otherwise not be able to afford or that would take too much space if owned.
A wish list of items available for borrowing was composed before the opening, based on the wishes of potential users of the service: nearly 300 individuals listed more than 250 items they wished to borrow. The greatest interest was shown for renting tools for home repairs and garden work, various home appliances, cleaning tools, sports equipment, items for entertainment and leisure, aids for creative pursuits and things for children. Collecting objects from the ‘wish list’ began in September 2014: through item donations by individuals as well as businesses.
At the same time the space was being renovated and promotional activities encouraging the local community to get involved took place.
The Library of Things saves money through establishing the so called ‘sharing economy’, reduces production needs and hence has positive environmental effects, as well as fosters greater cohesion of the community. A manual was prepared in support of establishing new libraries of things across Slovenia.