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The Library that will help you run up a bookshelf, deep clean the carpets and rustle up pancakes

DIY lovers and hobbyists with minimal storage space can rejoice at the arrival of sharing service Library of Things in Upper Norwood Library Hub.

Power drills, Strimmers, sandwich-makers and a GoPro are among 65 items for loan on a day by day basis – at costs ranging from £1/day for small tools to £20/day for a carpet cleaner, reduced if you sign up to one of a number of membership options. The items are top-of-the-range and spick and span: many of them donated or bought at a discount from brands including Kärcher and Bosch after the team raised £9000 in crowdfunding from 291 supporters. The Library is supported by local volunteers who offer demos of how to use the items properly, a repair shop and DIY and sewing classes.

Inspired by other product lending libraries around the world such as Leila in Berlin, university friends Rebecca Trevalyan and Emma Shaw came up with the concept when flat-sharing in West Norwood.

They launched a pilot with used and salvaged items in West Norwood Library, progressing from there to two shipping containers they designed themselves. With users taught to abide by five rules of borrowing, only one item out of 2500 borrows was never returned, they say.

An invitation to move to Upper Norwood came via the partnership between the library hub and Crystal Palace Transition Town, behind projects such as Crystal Palace Food Market and Patchwork Farm. It fits the vision of the library hub – run by a community trust since 2016 – of an all-round local resource; an impression reinforced by a packed launch event where Crystal Palace Transition Town co-chair Joe Duggan introduced a succession of supportive organisations and individuals which have brought the Library of Things to fruition.

Library of Things “isn’t just about things – the ultimate goal is connecting people to each other”, says Emma Shaw: with their volunteers’ comprehensive local knowledge they link users to advice networks and local services. Now they’re looking for how to make their model sustainable while maintaining their communal spirit. There are smart locks on the products which will eventually allow borrowers to pick up and drop off when staff aren’t around, plans for nine more Libraries of Things in London by 2021, and assistance offered to communities around the country to set up their own on the same principle.

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