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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 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' bi-monthly Repair 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 always a fraction of the price you'd pay to buy the Thing. Our 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 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 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 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 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, but you don't have to live in the borough where your Library of Things is.
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
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 can provide cleaning kits to make it easy. There's 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 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. 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 it comes with.
+ 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.
- 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