Mission & impact

Library of Things is on a mission to make borrowing better than buying.

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More affordable & convenient

90% of borrowers say they now have more money to spend on things important to them.

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More socially rewarding

75% of borrowers feel better connected to their community because of Library of Things.

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Kinder to the planet

Having used Library of Things, borrowers are 60% more likely to repair or recycle items.

What can I do at my local Library of Things? 

Story so far

We were 3 close friends when we started Library of Things. We tested the idea for 2 years+ in our South London neighbourhood, inspired by similar ventures in Berlin & Toronto. We put in 000s of hours between us, unpaid, because we saw how powerful it was when neighbours became friends & local spaces became home. When a shared collection of high quality Things unlocked experiences for everyone.

Here are some milestones we’ve reached:

Replicable model tested

  • We tested 400 products with 1000 borrowers over 18 months to identify the 70 ‘greatest hits’ Things best for borrowing

  • We created a blueprint for starting & running Library of Things sites in partnership with local communities – through partnerships with West Norwood Community Shop, Crystal Palace Transition Town and Upper Norwood Library Hub

Bespoke technology developed

  • We developed our own software and hardware technology to make a user-friendly borrowing experience and create a viable business model

£130,000+ seed funding secured

  • We received seed funding through 2 crowdfunding campaigns reaching 550 backers, Nesta, Tudor Trust & Essence Digital

✓ Lots of requests for more!

  • We’ve had 300+ requests from around the UK and beyond: “Help us start a Library of Things!”

Finally, we quit our jobs, and decided Library of Things was an idea whose time had come.

Chapter 1: The Shoestring Pilot
It all started in a library near our home in West Norwood, South London, where we tested the idea with our neighbours

Chapter 3: The Replicable Model
Having received requests from across the UK (‘help us start a Library of Things!’), we worked with Crystal Palace Transition Town & Upper Norwood Library Hub to develop a replicable version of Library of Things

Chapter 2: The Demonstrator
We then tested the idea more fully, lending out 400+ Things from 2 shipping containers. With a team of local people, we put in hundreds of volunteer hours to make it happen – it was wonderful, and tiring!

Why are we doing it?

  1. Incomes & living spaces are squeezed – especially in urban areas. It doesn’t make sense for us all to buy and store Things we only use now and then.

  2. Loneliness is on the rise. 1 in 7 people in the UK are often or always lonely. Our high streets and civic spaces like libraries are crying out for new models that bring in visitors and revenue, whilst offering space for friendship and learning.

  3. Natural resources are depleting & landfill waste is growing. In the UK, we send 15 million tonnes of waste to landfill sites annually – the equivalent to 100,000 adult blue whales!

    Library of Things addresses all 3 of these problems. It makes economic sense for individuals, it’s better for communities & it’s kinder to our planet.

What next?

Library of Things is currently open in beta mode in Crystal Palace, South London.

We’re growing the movement! We are actively looking for London-based local residents and spaces who want to start and host a Library of Things with their neighbourhood. Read more and express your interest.

We’re raising investment. We’re raising £1 million from social investors committed to our mission to make borrowing better than buying. This will fund our tech development and help us grow the movement across London and beyond. Email us to find out more.

We’re developing technology. We know that the success of Library of Things depends on the technology that we can create. View our roadmap to learn more about our plans.

What kind of organisation is Library of Things?

Library of Things is a social enterprise in line with the definition set out by the Social Enterprise Mark. It is a company limited by shares with:

  • A mission lock. A Guardian share is held by the non-profit company Things Trust, keeping Library of Things accountable to its mission

  • A 51% profit lock. At least 51% of all profits are directly reinvested back into the social enterprise, and the delivery of the mission