Libraries are no longer just places to borrow books. In recent years, libraries across the world have undergone a seismic transformation to better serve the needs of local communities. In fact, the very notion of what constitutes a "library" is being re-imagined.
In Toronto, Canada, a new Sharing Depot just opened where people can borrow all kinds of things, from sporting goods to camping equipment. The Sharing Depot builds on the success of the global Library of Things movement. On the neighborhood level, there's been a number of creative little free libraries that have been popping up. These libraries function differently from their larger counterparts, in that people are free to take — instead of simply borrow — books, and they can leave any old or unwanted books in the libraries for others to take. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, Jessica McClard took inspiration from little free libraries and set up a wildly successful little free pantry to share food and household items.
We've rounded up five organizations that are re-thinking what can be loaned and borrowed:
The Indy Tool Lending Library (iTooLL) is a media and technology tool lending library in Indianapolis, Indiana. Members can rent digital audio recorders, cameras, computers, backdrops, lighting kits, microphones, and more, for a week at a rate of $1 per tool.
2. Play Library
Play Library in Cincinnati, Ohio, lends toys and games for people of all ages. The library offers over a thousand items. The space is also home to Cincinnati's Toy History Museum.
The New Paltz Instrument Library in New Paltz, New York, lets people borrow musical instruments like ukuleles, guitars, violins, amps, percussion, and banjos, for a membership fee of $50 per year.
The Oxford Sling Library in Oxford, England, is a not-for-profit community group that offers trainings, workshops, consultations, as well as rental of baby slings.
Kitchen Share is a network of kitchen tool libraries in Portland, Oregon, that offers various kitchen appliances for rent. The group also provides space for community members to make food together and hosts workshops, skillshares, and other community events.