Library of Things, a social enterprise based in West Norwood which allows people to borrow useful items cheaply, was launched with a party at the weekend.
Membership to the library is free, with a range of goods available for a small fee, including DIY tools, gardening equipment, camping gear and kitchenware. Contributions have come from B&Q as well as outdoor goods companies Patagonia and Berghaus.
The project was set up in 2014 and is run by social entrepreneurs Rebecca Trevalyan, Sophia Wyatt and Emma Shaw.
Rebecca was clear on the benefits: “It enables people to save money and not have to own so much stuff. There are also societal benefits such as bringing people together within a local community to get to know one another.”
The organisation’s goal is to increase the number of members, which currently stands at around 70, to 500 within the first year. There are also plans to open five more outlets across the UK.
Library of Things is based outside Community Shop on Vale Street in West Norwood, itself a social enterprise which aims to reduce food waste by redistributing produce approaching its expiry date.
Lifeboat Studio, the Brixton-based design and build company, installed the shipping containers from which Library of Things operates.
Mel and Tom Dinwiddy were some of the first to sign up. On the afternoon of the launch they were returning a lawn mower they had borrowed for £1.50.
“We found out about the project at the West Norwood Feast,” said Tom. “It’s a great idea and illustrates the way West Norwood is changing. We’ll certainly be using it again.”
The project has raised almost £15,000 funding through Kickstarter and has received a £10,000 scaling catalyst grant from the Royal Society of Arts.