A pop-up library of things is an idea Marion Weymes has been tinkering with for some time now.
Come October – as part of the Dublin Food Co-op’s National Reuse Month activities – she plans to pilot the project, which is aimed at making everyday household items available for those in need of a lend.
“We’re hoping this can be used as a test run so, hopefully, in the future, it’s something that’s permanent,” says Weymes.
A hammer for a day? A hoover for a week? What’s the item you’d like to borrow? Weymes wants to know so she can try to include it.
The idea to push forward with the library came about, she says, when those involved with VOICE Ireland, Community Reuse Network Ireland, WeShare, FixJam, and SHARECITY brainstormed possibilities ahead of National Reuse Month.
If people share items, there’s less need to produce and consume them. It also allows people to free up space in their homes and try new hobbies without having to buy new supplies, says Weymes.
Ahead of her October pop-up, Weymes has asked people to complete a survey to try gauge what people in Dublin would likely borrow.
So far the online survey has identified sewing machines, kitchen appliances, DIY tools, Halloween costumes, craft materials, games, sports equipment and gardening equipment as the most desirable items to borrow.
“It does seem kind of universal, the type of items people need,” she says. “The classic one is a power drill, or different gardening equipment.”
“The way I see it is that these are items that people don’t use very often, items people might use when taking up new hobbies,” she says. “So, say you want to take up tennis. Realistically, you might play it twice and then your racket will just gather dust in your shed.”
To build October’s pop-up library of things, Weymes is relying on donations and loans from individuals and businesses around Dublin. Anyone will be able to join the library for free, and then take out items from the library for up to one week.
“I think this is something a lot of people want. It’s something that could be used by everyone,” says Weymes. “I think everyone’s been in that situation like ‘Oh, I’d love to try this …’ or ‘Oh, I really want a steam cleaner for my carpet. How am I going to get that?'”
If I Had a Hammer
It makes sense to have a space in Dublin where people can borrow items needed only on an occasional basis, or ones too bulky or costly to own, says Sam Toland, a board member of the Dublin Food Co-op.
It’s cheaper and it means that all and sundry have access to good-quality equipment, Toland says. “It’s already a phenomenon over in England. There’s one or two in London,” he says. “I was over in New York last year and there’s a whole culture of sharing clubs and things like that developing.”
But they can be tricky to sustain. “They require a huge amount of community support in order to be maintained,” says Toland. “With space being at a premium at the minute it’s a hard thing to justify in the city centre.”
Still, having a physical location is important. It gives that sense of tangibility to the concept, says Toland.
If more and more communities set up such spaces in Dublin, they could be a runner in the long-term. They’ve the potential also to create something of a community of borrowers and lenders, he says.
“I live on a terrace in Drimnagh. I vaguely know my neighbours but I’m still not going over to borrow a shovel,” he says. “As cities like ours become more and more anonymous, things like this become more and more important not just because you could access these things but, in and of itself – it generates that sense of community.”
Binoculars and Board Games
If you happen to have some utilitarian stuff lying around unused and unloved, Weymes hopes you might consider donating to the library of things.
For the next few weeks, she’s aiming to gather as many useful items as she can for her month-long pop-up.
More and more people are aware, Weymes says, of the excessive consumption of things and of resource use these days.
Her library of things is an antidote. “I think there’s a hunger for this. It’s something that’s catching on,” she says. “We’ve had a lot of responses from people who aren’t in Dublin saying they’d love to see this in Galway, or that they hope it keeps going.”
The pop-up pops up on 1 October at the Dublin Food Co-op. Need a racket for a day?