Since January 2017, a group of friends opened the first library of things in Prague. The concept is the same as a book library, but instead of borrowing books, we can borrow objects like tools, music instruments, sport equipment … We have met Petr, one of the co-founder, an inspiring meeting.
Library new generation
Petr studied at the Economic School at Charles University in Prague. With a very stressful first job, Petr ended with a burn-out. He decided to bike from Prague to Lisbon, Portugal. A very exhausting project. Then he heard about some “library of objects” spreading around the world, but as far as he knew there wasn’t any in Prague. When he came back to Prague, he launched a call to co-founders on social media, in order to open a library of objects in Prague. A team of 5 young motivated fellows was formed. They were first helped by an accelerator Social Impact World and learned a lot of know-how about entrepreneurship (business model, project management, communication skills…). They found within 6 months a local lent by the Charles University of Prague and then The Library Of Things could open.
They launched a public call to whoever has objects they don’t need anymore could give it to the Library Of Things. It was a very good surprise when they received so many items from the citizens of Prague.
A new concept
Concretely, The Library Of Things, is a place where people can give away items they don’t need anymore. Those objects can therefor be used by others who need it. The concept is the same as a book library. We rent an item for one week, for an affordable fee. The more the renting period is long, the less will be the price. There is an online catalog where we can check avalabled items.
The main idea behind all this? To avoid people to buy things that they will use maybe only once a year. There are many examples : driller, tent, suitcase, barbecue, super hot sleeping bag, animal transport bo, golf club, hammock, camping gear, pyrography tool … all these items will certainly be used once a year, even less.
Petr told us the drill example : “It’s true that nowadays we can buy whatever we want. But a study showed that a drill, actually drills only 13 minutes in its all life (from production to scrapheap)”. The sensed question would be : do we really need all what we possess ?
Economically speaking, of course it is cheaper to rent an item for a modest amount of money, and to use it for sure, instead of paying the high price a brand new item that we will certainly use, but that will end up in the garage or in a cupboard.
Ecologically speaking, if all the drills stored in garages wouldn’t have been produced, we would have saved a lot of energy, natural resources, time for something else…
A meeting place
The Library of Things takes place in the city center of Prague in the building complex Campus Hybernska managed by the university. In this place, there is a restaurant, an art gallery, music recording studio, a cinema, all at the student disposal. The Library of Things is really involved in it and encourages people to meet, talk, share… Even better, they also organize workshops for Do-It-Yourself activities like bare-sandals, belts, compost box, and even glasses (made of empty glass bottles).
Moreover, The Library of Things aims to be a place to share know-hows, where the oldest could teach the youngest and vice-versa. It can also be a place to discover things. When we met Petr, a student came to give a tool she didn’t need. She received it from someone who also didn’t need it. It was a pyrography tool. Unless being a professional in pyrography, this item is typically what we would maybe use once a year.
Finally, whoever wishes to organize an event, it is possible to do it in this place. The Library of Things can even provide the objects.
A happy future
According to Petr, the most beautiful moments are when people return their item : “Most of the time, they come back with a story. A birthday party where the kids were really happy, or a travel to Latin America that could have been achieve thanks to a bag back provided by the Library. Or during the Do-It-Yourself workshops, participants are so happy to create something with their bare-hands”.
The Library of Things exists for two years now, with 250 registers customers, more than 430 available items. They still receive more and more objects from donors. The local is enough now to store all the things, and they will redesign the storage room.
In a long term, they wish to spread the idea and replicate it in all the big cities of Czech Republic, because they think there is potential for it. They have know-how, knowledge, and experience to do it. They would like to recruit an employee who would take care of the Library (they all volunteer during their spare time). Finally, they would like to create a membership (like a normal library), because the customers still have to pay for each items.
To have more details on The Library of Things : https://www.libraryofthings.cz/