Do you want to start a new hobby or join an outdoor activity, but can’t justify the cost of buying all the kit and gear? Have you run out of storage in your home, and don’t quite have the space for a new canoe or bike? Are you travelling somewhere, would love to explore the outdoors, but can’t take everything you need with you?…. Why not borrow what you need instead?
What is a Library of Things?
A ‘Library of Things’ is a group or organisation who allow the public to rent or loan items from their own collection. The items they offer for rentals span a wide range of types and uses; including appliances, tools, equipment, electronics, toys and games, craft supplies, musical instruments, and recreational equipment.
There are now Libraries of Things spread across the UK, and growing in number. Often supported by local partnerships and community groups, they are becoming a movement in themselves; promoting more environmentally friendly and economically positive consumerism as well as individual benefits for the users.
How can a Library of Things help me pursue outdoor activities?
Although each library has its own catalogue of available items, outdoor and activity equipment can be loaned from one of the centres available. Apart from saving you some money in the short term, it is a cost effective alternative to purchasing lots of specialised outdoor activity and sport equipment that you may never need again. Borrowing these items can make things easier while travelling, and give you the chance to try some adventures of your own before pursuing any further as a long-term hobby or interest.
What are the positives?
There are a lot of positive aspects for using and supporting these unique libraries and borrowing schemes across the UK. The benefits in fact extend much further than the immediate conveniences for the initial user.
- Reduces waste – Shared and borrowed items can get more use and a longer life than items that have been bought by an individual and used only sparingly. By borrowing from these sharing hubs, you can reduce the waste of excessive consumerism.
- More environmentally friendly solution – Embracing a sharing mentality can be less wasteful, reduce unnecessary land-fill and energy on recycling and manufacturing.
- Saves you money – Although it often might be cost effective to purchase your own items for easier and cheaper reuse, some rarely used items become overly expensive to pay-out for a limited number of uses. Using rent schemes can cut those unnecessary costs; which built up over time can be a substantial amount.
- You can ‘try before you buy’ – Sometimes we are just unsure about if we really want to purchase an item or not; especially in relation to a new activity or past-time we have yet to attempt. Borrowing equipment and gear makes starting such new activities and pursuits much of less of a costly investment, and saves you any concerns of being unsure before you commit to purchase.
- Helps connect the local community – Schemes and concepts such as the growing Library of Things trend, are often free-standing organisations set up by non-profits, educational groups or individuals. They regularly work closely with other local community projects and partners; helping develop and support local efforts and schemes.
- Saves space in your home – It’s not unusual these days for our homes to be highly packed with lots of possessions, with little space for much more. Hiring equipment helps keep your living spaces decluttered, and removes storage issues for those that don’t have a lot of room to begin with.
Where is the nearest Library of Things?
There are currently at least 20 official Library of Things publicly open in the UK. However, this number is constantly increasing as new libraries open in popular locations.
There are also Library of Things available throughout Europe and the US. Many of them are also available for outdoor equipment borrowing on any international travelling!
Click on the pin point within the map for further details on each location.
How can I get started using a Library of Things?
Here’s how to get started borrowing from a Library of Things:
- Identify a location to borrow from. Use our map above to find a location most appropriate.
- Browse their catalogue or contact the administrators to find what they have available for you to loan.
- Check the day rate for renting the equipment and any terms and conditions that may apply to use and return of the items.
- Enjoy rented use of the equipment, and return to library by the agreed date.
Looking to rediscover the great outdoors?
Use our Activity Explorer to find the best outdoor pursuits currently open around UK
What if they don’t have what I am looking for?
Of course it is possible that the Library of Things will not have what you are looking for. However that does not mean your dreams of borrowing instead of buying are at an end. There are a number of other outdoor specific equipment hire stores and services available. And some outdoor activity venues may already have equipment available to hire as part of their services. Although always check first that this is possible before attending.
Use our Activity Explorer to browse the best outdoor venues which offer equipment hire.
Here are some popular online outdoor equipment alternatives available: