Library of Things: A Cornerstone of the Real Sharing Economy

Image credit: Eddie Hamilton

A cultural shift from owning everything we might ever conceivably want to simply have access to good quality items when we need them started to take shape following the recession in the late 2000s. As the economy recovered, there was a general concern that most people would return to pre-recession levels of consumption and the act of sharing would fall out of vogue. But, according to Gene Homicki, co-founder of myTurn*, a cloud-based inventory platform for Libraries of Things (LoT) even as the economy rebounded, Libraries of Things continued to gain popularity.

There are more than 400 publicly accessible libraries that provide tools, kitchen items, toys, audio/visual equipment, electronics, musical instruments, and more on myTurn alone. These comprise more than a quarter-million items available to rent and nearly a million loans annually.

For the past decade, Shareable has been on the vanguard of covering this trend. We’ve done deep dives into how libraries are boldly innovating to meet the needs of changing communities, partnered on the successful campaign to save seed sharing in the United States, advised municipal leaders on the benefits of LoTs for their cities, and produced several resources to support organizers around the world to start LoTs in their communities.

“Library of Things: A Cornerstone of the Real Sharing Economy” is both a celebration of how far LoTs have come and a glimpse into where they’re going.

In this book we explore:

  • How traditional libraries are reinventing themselves while expanding their offerings and reaffirming their role as a vital community service.
  • What you should know before starting an LoT (and how to do it!)
  • How pop-up and mobile LoTs like The Thingery and ShareShed are expanding their reach and meeting the needs of more people in their communities.
  • What opportunities exist for new services due to several advances in technology.
  • And much more.

We hope you’ll feel inspired to support your local Library of Things after reading this ebook and maybe even work with others to start one yourself!

Library of Things ebook

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The ebook "Library of Things: A Cornerstone of the Real Sharing Economy" features our editorial series covering the past, present and future of libraries of things.
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*myTurn is a Shareable sponsor but had no editorial oversight of this article or ebook

Tom Llewellyn


Tom Llewellyn | |

Tom Llewellyn is the interim executive director for Shareable, a nonprofit news + action hub promoting people-powered solutions for the common good. As part of his role at Shareable,

Things I share: Food, Stories, Time, Skills, Tools, Cars, Bikes, Smiles, Clothes, Music, Knowledge, Home, Land, Water, and Stone Soup!