+ What Things do we stock?
We like our Things to be useful or joyful, and preferably both.
We have 5 categories:
- Adventuring & Hobbying – think kites & 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 testing at our demo site in West Norwood, we learnt what people borrow and what they don’t. During the Crystal Palace Library of Things crowdfunding campaign, we asked people what they would like to borrow. We combined these two lists to make our current list of 52 Things.
- 2. Maintenance: We need Things that are easy to pass 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 and donations to make this affordable for us. 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. At our West Norwood Demonstrator, people tried to donate 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 need to make how-to guides, packaging, photos, pricing etc bespoke to each Thing – and that's only possible with a streamlined collection of Things.
+ What can I do with items I have that are broken or that I no longer want?
- Repair Parties: Come along to Crystal Palace Library of Things' monthly Restart Party! See the events calendar for details.
- Post in Crystal Palace Local Facebook group to ask for a local 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
- Crystal Palace Local Facebook group
- Things For Free in Crystal Palace Facebook group
Give it to a charity shop
Here are some of the charity shops in Crystal Palace (note many charity shops don't accept electrical items):
- Cancer Research
- Emmaus West Norwood (accepts electrical items)
- Pawlyene Close Recycling Centre, Penge
- Croydon Road Recycling Centre, Penge
- Vale Street Recycling Centre, West Norwood
- Churchfields Road Recycling Centre, Beckenham
+ Can I request a Thing that you don't have in stock?
Yes! Submit your request here.
Please see the question above about how we choose what to stock – this shows our criteria for what we are able to stock.
+ How do we price our Things?
We have a formula that ensures the daily 'pay-as-you-go' borrowing price of our Things is less than 10% of the price you'd pay to buy the Thing.
+ What happens when Things break or reach the end of their life?
- 1. Spotting the damage: We ask our 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 our 'Thing Master'.
- 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 donate it to a local charity or individual if they can use it – or recycle it.
+ 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.
+ What are the membership options?
You can view our trial membership plans at a glance here: https://www.libraryofthings.co.uk/membership/
+ What are the criteria for joining?
To borrow from Library of Things, you need to:
- Be 18 or over
- 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
+ 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
We ask that people complete this short form when signing up to the Concession membership: https://libraryofthings.typeform.com/to/bVuKl9. All information will be treated with confidence.
Once you've signed the form and signed up to be a Concession member, your account will be activated for borrowing within 72 hours.
+ 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 provide cleaning kits to make it easy.
- Bring the Thing back on time. So the next borrower isn't kept waiting.
- Learn to use the Things properly by joining a Thing Demo, reading our how-to guides, watching YouTube videos or asking our Hosts for help
- 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 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. More are available to purchase if you need. The hand sander comes with a few sheets of sanding paper.
+ 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