Wouldn’t it be great if there was a community resource where you could borrow items you needed instead of buy them? Well, that brilliant idea became a reality when The Sydney Library of Things was born in 2022. Now, for Christmas 2023, they’re asking locals to consider joining this fabulous initiative for a special discounted rate.
So what exactly is The Sydney Library of Things? Co-founder Bridget Kennedy answered these questions for us…
Q: Where did the idea for The Sydney Library of Things come from?
Bridget: I’ve been interested in the share economy for a while. I thought about starting a tool library for many years, the impetus being when I needed some power-operated gardening tools to do a bit of work in my garden when I moved to Lane Cove. I borrowed some tools from neighbours but realised that most people in the street had multiple versions of the same tools. While borrowing tools was a great way to meet new neighbours, it just didn’t seem to make sense on so many levels for most households in the area to have the same tools. In 2020, with my business closed because of COVID, I decided to make the idea a reality. I visited Make-Do in Woollongong, and spoke to other tool libraries. I reached out to the local community to see if there was interest and put a proposal together to North Sydney Council which was very supportive ….and here we are. We now have over 120 members and have made over 1,000 loans.
Q: What did it take to make The Sydney Library of Things a reality?
Bridget: It took a receptive Council that could provide us with a permanent, rent-free space and a group of passionate people with lots of energy who believe they can make a positive difference in their local community! Two other women, Jacky Barker who runs www.inthecove.com.au and Carol Skyring, who I met when she volunteered to help out on the Sydney Edible Garden Trail www.sydneyediblegardentrail.com, came on board straight away and have helped drive the project. Without these two incredible women, the idea would not have become a reality. I’ve now stepped back a little due to extra work commitments, as I’m a Lane Cove Councillor and am now the vice-chair, with Carol now in the Chair position.
Q: What were the greatest challenges to getting The Sydney Library of Things off the ground?
Bridget: Insurance! It was more challenging than we realized as it seems that the insurance requirements for tool libraries had changed over the last year. But eventually we were successful.
Q: How does The Sydney Library of Things work?
Bridget: You pay for either a monthly, quarterly or annual membership. Then you can borrow up to 5 items at a time for free. You reserve the items through our online booking system and collect them between 9 and 12 noon on a Saturday from our location at the Coal Loader in Waverton. The standard loan period is for 7 days. The great news is that we will soon be opening in Lane Cove, so if you join you can borrow from both locations.
Q: Where do the items come from?
Bridget: One of the lovely things about libraries of things, is that because they’re created by donations from the community, each one is unique. We’re always on the look out for extremely useful but only occasionally used items. They’ll be lovingly cared for and available to all library members for borrowing. We don’t accept items that are: petrol powered tools, broken or poor quality equipment, incomplete sets of equipment, tools with foreign power plugs and liquids, adhesives, caulks, paint.
Here’s a list of our current wish list of things still required – https://thesydneylibraryofthings.org.au/donations/#Items. Our camping gear and party gear is always popular so if you have a good tent or some party gear please get in touch.
Q: What’s on offer to borrow from The Sydney Library of Things?
Bridget: So much! We have outdoor games, jigsaw puzzles, an ice cream maker, power tools, a fog machine, gazebos, trestle tables, hedgers, a metal detector, food dehydrator, food preserver and much more. The current list is here – https://thesydneylibraryofthings.myturn.com/library/inventory and growing.
Q: How has the concept been received so far by the community?
Bridget: Really well! We now have a full committee and lots of keen volunteers and many people interested in the idea. Membership is now over 120 and growing. People love the idea.
Q: Are more volunteers still needed?
Yes, we are looking for people to help with maintenance and also front desk staff – it is a great way to meet people, and we will need more volunteers when Lane Cove opens.
Q: Tell us about the special Christmas offer for 2023.
Now more than ever, we need a library of things. The cost of living is rising. How can you try new things or grab some much-needed equipment without spending much money? The answer is The Sydney Library of Things! For a special annual price of $65 (or $60 for concession holders) you can borrow up to five items per week without extra fees. The library now has over 250 items to choose from.