September 24, 2014

In the spirit of the “sharing economy,” the Sacramento Public Library launches a “Library of Things”


West Norwood in the UK is home to a "Library of Things" that is a community-powered borrowing shop.

West Norwood in the UK is home to a “Library of Things” that is a community-powered borrowing shop.

The Sacramento Public Library has set aside a $4,500 budget in order to offer a “Library of Things”—non-book objects from garden tools, to sports and tech equipment. The library is collecting suggestions for what things the community would like to borrow on their website, suggesting that patrons can request anything “from tools to badminton rackets to 3D scanners.”

Suggestions received so far include video games, a sewing machine, design software, high definition video cameras, iPads, and a sleep tracker.

Sacramento Public Library’s programming and partnerships coordinator Lori Easterwood told the Sacramento Business Journal that libraries have always participated in the “sharing economy” and this is an attempt to build on that spirit.

“The Library of Things is just a way to bring our service model to items besides books. The idea is that, just like books, these items will be used to improve people’s lives,” Easterwood said.

The idea of a “Library of Things” has proven to be very popular in Germany, according to an article in The Guardian about a Berlin “borrowing shop” that sparked the spread of these libraries across the country. Gizmodo picked up the story, and the California-based writer called for the “Library of Things” to come to the United States. Perhaps Sacramento Public Library is answering that call.

Meanwhile, another “Library of Things” is opened in August in London with the mission to “promote efficiency and generate cohesion through the creation of community-led libraries of things across London.” Five weeks in, they report having 58 members and 100 items to check-out. 


Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.