Calvert Library SWAP Gets People Sharing Well Beyond Books

Article cross-posted from Center for a New American Dream. Written by Robyn Truslow.

Last November, several Calvert Library staff members attended a New Dream CommunityShare training hosted by Maryland’s Division of Library Development and Services (DLDS). While we heard about organizations that had set up tool libraries and seed libraries, we were most attracted to a vision for encouraging the re-use of our community’s under-used stuff. On the car ride home, we bounced ideas around and realized we needed to set up a "SWAP" team at Calvert Library. The following May, the team was born.

It’s no surprise that DLDS and New Dream found each other because, after all, libraries are the original sharing organization. Libraries were green before green was a “thing.” Life-long learning and community-building are exuded from the very walls and floors of our buildings. Libraries transform lives and awaken new dreams on a nearly daily basis. Now, our community will also come to learn how to make the most out of the stuff they no longer use by learning how to swap.

Calvert Library’s SWAP (It’s not an acronym, but it’s too cool to have a SWAP team, so it must be all caps!) team is starting with some straight-forward ideas and partnering with like-minded groups. Our first partners are two local organizations that serve low-income families: HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) and Healthy Families. They are hosting a community baby shower in the first week of October to offer lots of great resources and information to new parents. We thought, "Wouldn't it make great sense to host a baby swap at the same time?" Not actual babies, of course, but baby stuff, including toys, books, clothing, and equipment.

Later in October, we’re partnering with the Master Gardeners to do a flower bulb swap. Everyone needs to thin their beds at this time of year, and while gardeners love to make compost, they’d rather share the bounty. We’re calling it “divide and multiply.”

A neighboring county library has a cake pan library with all kinds of thematic cake pans. Instead of starting our own or borrowing their cake pans to loan to our customers, December will be a “decorate and celebrate” swap. We’ll encourage people to bring their cake pans, seasonal décor, costumes, and even holiday recipes to share and refresh.

After the New Year, we’ll partner again with the Master Gardeners to host a seed swap and an “everything but the kitchen sink” swap. We will round out our year with an “out of the pool and back to school” swap at the end of July 2015, encouraging people to bring their practice uniforms, soccer cleats, outgrown school clothes and school supplies. For details of our plans for the next few months, check out http://calvert.lib.md.us/swap.html. Better yet, come swap with us!

Robyn Truslow is the Public Relations Coordinator at the Calvert Library in Prince Frederick, Maryland.

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