Carpet cleaners, lawn mowers or camping gears are items that we may not need every day. So why buy them? Created as a very efficient alternative to buying, the Library of Things is an innovative friendly space where one can hire a plethora of items at very low cost. This new movement founded on collaborative economy is witnessing an upsurge across diverse communities around the world.
More and more people are believing in a future of sharing and borrowing. The Libraries of Things are spaces that have emerged to promote efficiency as well as knit solidarity in communities. People are offered a large spectrum of items that they can borrow at very low prices. These spaces are becoming the focal points for mutual help where individuals may equally share their knowledge about a variety of topics.
The Libraries of Things are mushrooming across countries like the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), Germany, Netherlands or Canada. All share the same vision: give people access to things they need once in a while so they can save money. These libraries are gradually taking the form of a genuine global network.
In London, it is an old container that has been converted into a Library of Things space after several pop-up stores were set up on a trial basis. Its creation was made possible through crowdfunding and donations. The London Library of Things witnessed a surge in the number of members keen to join this new business model.
Here, people can hire power tools to kitchenware after checking availability online and creating an account for free. Acquiring an item has never been so easy and cheap. The co-founder of the London Library of Things, Bex Trevalyan, is categorical about this form of business model:
Everyone should be able to access useful and life enhancing things when we need them
To be efficient and to remain loyal to the needs of the community, the team responds to feedback from customers. As such, it expanded from simply offering items for hire to offering services. If you ever need an in-house DJ, event promotion or workshop planning, you should consider knocking on the door of the London Library of Things. Another thriving team is the Share Library of Things located in Frome, England. It shares the same objectives as its counterpart in London.
In the US as well as in Germany, the Library of Things is more diversified. Tools and kitchen libraries are among the spaces that are most appreciated and sought after. Members can access to a plethora of tools and appliances without having to spend much. Other Libraries of Things offer recreational kits, instruments for science and technology or music. Unusual ones even lend stuff like neck ties or toys. In Toronto, The Sharing Depot, which is the first Library of Things in Canada, is proving to be very successful. It quickly expanded to four locations. Members can borrow camping equipment as well as sports equipment as well as party supplies.
Nevertheless, there are certain criteria to be respected to be able to share your products and items. Generally, teams of the libraries proceed with some verification to make sure that the items are of good quality and can be used safely, especially regarding electrical items.
In the same breath, this sharing and borrowing concept is furthermore strengthening the feeling of brotherhood in all communities. This type of collaborative economy is seeing an unprecedented and according to experts, an “irreversible” trend. It is foreseen that such a trend will lead to an efficient use of resources and thus, healthy economies.
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You may not be a seasoned traveler, or convinced about your feelings around sleeping in a stranger’s guestroom, but you definitely know of Airbnb — San Francisco’s gem and the most prominent example of a new sharing economy. But what exactly is a sharing economy and why is it important to follow it?
The principle of the sharing economy — as the term suggests — is to share resources and services. For example, a violoncello owner rents out the instrument for USD 63 per month to another person, who wants to learn playing the violoncello but doesn’t have one to practice. This concept doesn’t sound original, and it might even be characterised as primitive, but the sharing economy of today is different from anything we have known before due to the availability of vast amount of data about the proprietors, the renters and the things or services.
Airbnb, RelayRides, Uber, SnapGoods are all good examples of a contemporary sharing economy and are all online marketplaces that have flourished thanks to the internet. Their servers match owners and renters with each other, the social networks allow on checking up people’s profiles, reading reviews and building trust, navigation satellites guide people to the nearest available service and bills are processed online.
It’s therefore the world wide web that coordinates the associates of the sharing economy and supports their eco-friendly habits.
Renting a bicycle, a sofa-bed or a camping tent instead of buying your own, immediately reduces your carbon footprint because you save on the resources that are required to make a brand new product.
Airbnb — an inspirer of the new sharing economy — has announced through its chief product officer and co-founder Joe Gebbia that guests in North America alone “use 63% less energy than hotel guests”. Uber, another San Francisco based multinational online company, also appraises its service as advantageous for the environment: sharing a car instead of driving your own reduces the number of cars on the road, which reduces carbon dioxide.
Sharing economy may have started as a way to cut down on personal costs and supplement our income but it has evolved into an environmental movement and a revolutionary transformation of lifestyle. The players of this type of economy aren’t just trading — they are working towards their reputation, are building trust with each other and are practicing their social skills.