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+ What Things 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
+ How do we choose which Things to stock?
Our Thing Menu is not set in stone – it will always evolve. We have 3 criteria to help us decide what to stock:
- 1. Demand: During 18 months of intensive testing, we got a whole lot of data on what people tend to borrow and what they don’t. We also regularly ask our existing borrowers what new Things they want to borrow, and add these Things to the shelves where we can.
- 2. Maintenance: We need Things that are easy to pass straight from borrower-to-borrower with as few issues as possible. Things like tents and barbecues are difficult to clean, dry and repair, which is why they aren't on our list yet.
- 3. Storage: We have very limited storage space, so we prioritise Things based on demand.
+ Where do we get our Things from?
We source our Things directly from manufacturers and retailers like Bosch, Karcher and B&Q. They give us a range of discounts, donations and warranty agreements. We source our Things in this way because:
- To make borrowing enjoyable, we've learned we need to design bespoke elements around each Thing, like how-to guides, packaging and photos. For this, we need specific models and quantities of each Thing.
- To make it easy to maintain each Thing, we need to know which spare parts to order and how many. We need to know the types of Things that are likely to go wrong. Crucially, we need the warranties we can arrange with manufacturers and retailers.
+ Why don't we accept donations from individuals?
We accepted donations from borrowers in the past and we ended up with piles of Things that we couldn’t lend out. Here's what we found:
- Matching supply & demand: The Things people want to donate often aren't the Things people want to borrow, for example, we received donations of broken keyboards, rusty tools and even mouldy lampshades.
- Maintenance: Donated Things don’t come with warranties. Meaning once they’re broken beyond simple repairs (which happens quickly), they’re broken for good. It's also difficult to arrange spare parts and quick fixes if we're working with a wide range of different Thing models and ages.
- Making borrowing a great experience: Ultimately, we want to help everyone borrow rather than buy. For many people, borrowing is only attractive if the Thing is in a great condition, and the borrowing experience is affordable and convenient. To do this, we make how-to guides, packaging, photos, pricing etc bespoke to each Thing – and that's not possible if your collection of Things is always changing.
+ What can I do with items I have that are broken or that I no longer want?
- Repair Parties: Come along to your local Library of Things' bi-monthly Repair Party! See the events calendar for details.
- Post in a local Facebook group to ask for a repair expert.
- We host 'swap shop' events now and then – check our events calendar. Know someone who wants to volunteer to organise these? Get in touch!
Sell it or give it away online
Give it to a charity shop
Charity shops that accept electrical items include British Heart Foundation, Oxfam and Emmaus
Recycle it Look up your closest recycling centre. Check out what materials they accept, and any other restrictions before you make the trip.
+ Can I request a Thing that you don't have in stock?
Yes! Submit your request here.
+ How do we price our Things?
We have a formula that ensures the daily 'pay-as-you-go' borrowing price of our Things is always a fraction of the price you'd pay to buy the Thing. The Concession membership helps make borrowing even more affordable too.
+ What happens when Things break or reach the end of their life?
- 1. Spotting the damage: We ask borrowers to flag any damage they notice as soon as possible. This kicks off the repair process.
- 2. The Quick Fix: To do small repairs like unblocking the pressure washer or replacing the jig saw blades, our small team of local volunteer Thing Fixers meet every week, coordinated by a funded 'Thing Wizard'.
- 3. The Major Mend: When a Thing is beyond a quick fix, we send it back to the manufacturers for full diagnosis and repair.
- 4. Saying Goodbye: When a Thing is beyond all repair, we either send it back to the manufacturer so they can reuse the parts, or donate it to a local charity.
+ How do I join?
- Create your account here. It takes 30 seconds.
- Confirm your email by clicking the link in the email that is sent to you.
- Choose your membership plan here. Even if you want to pay-as-you-go (it's just a one-off £1 to join).
+ What are the criteria for joining?
To borrow from Library of Things, you need to:
- Be 18 or over
- Have an email, so we can send you receipts and important information about your borrow
- Have a valid debit or credit card that you can link to your account when you sign up
- Sign the Liability Waiver included in the sign-up process
+ Do I need to live in the borough I'm borrowing in?
Nope - you can come from as far as you like!
We find that people are more likely to borrow when a Library of Things is on their doorstep.
At our Crystal Palace site, we once had a borrower who travelled all the way from Islington in North London just to borrow a steam cleaner, as it was still cheaper than buying one!
+ What are the criteria for joining as a Concession member?
We created a Concession membership for borrowers who might not otherwise be able to borrow with us.
Concession members might be:
- Low income
- Receiving governmental support
- A student
- Receiving a pension
It's up to you to decide whether you need a Concession membership or not.
We just ask that you complete this short form when signing up for a Concession membership: https://libraryofthings.typeform.com/to/bVuKl9. All information will be treated with confidence.
+ The 5 Simple Rules of Borrowing
We want to make borrowing fair, friendly and fun – without hidden catches and sneaky small print.
That’s why it’s important that all our borrowers agree to these 5 simple rules of borrowing:
- Bring the Thing back clean. We can provide cleaning kits to make it easy. There may be a small charge if a Thing is returned dirty.
- Bring the Thing back on time. So the next borrower isn't kept waiting.
- Learn to use the Things properly by reading our how-to guides & videos, by asking a Host for help when you're collecting the Thing from your local kiosk or by getting in touch with us.
- Tell us about any damages immediately here so we know the Thing is safe for the next borrower
- Share your feedback, stories & ideas here so we can keep improving Library of Things for future borrowers
+ How do I reserve Things?
This video shows you how to make a reservation online.
Alternatively you can drop into your local Library of Things during opening hours to make a reservation.
+ Are consumables like carpet cleaning tablets and sandpaper included in the price?
Mostly, yes. The carpet cleaner comes with 4 cleaning tablets, enough for 1-2 rooms. The hand sander comes with 3 sheets of sanding paper. More are available to purchase of both of these Things if you need them.
See the item descriptions of the Thing you're after to see what is included.
+ How long can I reserve Things for?
You can reserve Things up to a maximum of 14 days. This ensures other borrowers aren't left waiting too long.
+ What counts as a 'one day' borrow?
If you’ve reserved a Thing from Tuesday to Wednesday, that means you can collect the Thing at any point during opening hours on Tuesday, and return it at any point during opening hours on Wednesday.
Nobody else will be able to reserve it on the days that you have reserved it.
Check our opening hours before reserving Things:
- Monday Closed
- Tuesday 10:00 – 18:00
- Wednesday 10:00 – 18:00
- Thursday 10:00 – 20:00
- Friday 10:00 – 18:00
- Saturday 10:00 – 18:00
- Sunday 11:00 – 17:00
+ How do I cancel a reservation?
This 20-second video shows you how to cancel a reservation.
+ What happens if I can’t return the Thing within opening hours?
Need to extend your loan? First, check nobody else has booked it after you.
- If your Thing is available, you can select the days you need it for.
- If your Thing is booked, you’ll have to return it at the time you planned. If not, we will charge a late fee of the daily pay-as-you-go price. We do this to encourage the Things to be ready for the next borrower when they come to collect their reservation.
+ What happens if I break a Thing?
Our objective is to make borrowing fair, friendly and fun. We know damages happen, and that 99% of the time these aren’t intentional. We simply ask that borrowers are honest about what’s happened.
Let us know about any damages either via this repair form.
+ What happens if I lose a Thing or it is stolen from me?
As with most libraries, you are liable for up to the full replacement value of failing to return an item. We will review this on a case by case basis, depending on the Thing and the circumstances. The full replacement value of items will soon be shown on our online catalogue system.
Billing & Payment questions
+ How do I pay for membership and borrowing?
- You pay for membership and borrowing fees via a debit or credit card linked to your online borrowing account.
- We use a payment processing provider called Stripe. Stripe is a PCI Service Provider Level 1, which is the highest grade of payment processing security
- We cannot currently accept payment by cash, Paypal or other methods.
If you are having difficulty making a payment, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org