Wouldn’t it be great if there was a community resource where you could borrow items you needed instead of buy them? Well, that brilliant idea is now a reality and it’s been brought to life by local Bridget Kennedy, who kindly answered some questions about The Sydney Library of Things …
Q: Where did the idea for The Sydney Library of Things come from?
Bridget: I’ve been interested in the share economy for a while. I thought about starting a tool library for many years, the impetus being when I needed some power-operated gardening tools to do a bit of work in my garden when I moved to Lane Cove. I borrowed some tools from neighbours but realised that most people in the street had multiple versions of the same tools. While borrowing tools was a great way to meet new neighbours, it just didn’t seem to make sense on so many levels for most households in the area to have the same tools. In 2020, with my business closed because of COVID, I decided to make the idea a reality. I visited Make-Do in Woollongong, and spoke to other tool libraries. I reached out to the local community to see if there was interest and put a proposal together to North Sydney Council which was very supportive ….and here we are.
Q: What is your background?
Bridget: I originally trained in IT as a workflow specialist in the Banking and Finance Sector but also studied Visual Arts and Jewellery Design. I run a contemporary jewellery gallery and workshop in North Sydney where I represent other artists, teach workshops and mentor uni students.
Q: What did it take to make The Sydney Library of Things a reality?
Bridget: It took a receptive Council that could provide us with a permanent, rent-free space and a group of passionate people with lots of energy who believe they can make a positive difference in their local community! Two other women, Jacky Barker who runs www.inthecove.com.au and Carol Skyring, who I met when she volunteered to help out on the Sydney Edible Garden Trail www.sydneyediblegardentrail.com, came on board straight away and have helped drive the project. Without these two incredible women, the idea would not have become a reality. I’ve now stepped back a little due to extra work commitments, as I’m a newly elected councillor of Lane Cove (and Deputy Mayor) and am now the vice-chair, with Carol now in the Chair position.
Q: What were the greatest challenges to getting The Sydney Library of Things off the ground?
Bridget: Insurance! It was more challenging than we realized as it seems that the insurance requirements for tool libraries had changed over the last year. But eventually we were able to get insurance through QBE.
Q: How does The Sydney Library of Things work?
Bridget: You pay for either a monthly, quarterly or annual membership. Then you can borrow up to 5 items at a time for free. You reserve the items through our online booking system and collect them between 9 and 12 noon on a Saturday from our location at the Coal Loader in Waverton. The standard loan period is for 7 days.
Q: Where do the items come from?
Bridget: One of the lovely things about libraries of things, is that because they’re created by donations from the community, each one is unique. We’re always on the look out for extremely useful but only occasionally used items. They’ll be lovingly cared for and available to all library members for borrowing. We don’t accept items that are: petrol powered tools, broken or poor quality equipment, incomplete sets of equipment, tools with foreign power plugs and liquids, adhesives, caulks, paint.
Here’s a list of our current wish list of things still required – https://thesydneylibraryofthings.org.au/donations/#Items
Q: What’s on offer to borrow from The Sydney Library of Things?
Bridget: So much! We have kids’ games, jigsaw puzzles, an ice cream maker, musical instruments, power tools, a blow up row boat, a smoke machine, a metal detector, outdoor heater, food dehydrator, food preserver and much more. The current list is here – https://thesydneylibraryofthings.myturn.com/library/inventory and growing.
Q: How has the concept been received so far by the community?
Bridget: Really well! We now have a full committee and lots of keen volunteers and many people interested in the idea. Membership is still small but growing. We haven’t done much promotion yet on social media because of lockdown. But the post we put up about our open date was shared nearly 200 times! People love the idea.
Q: Are more volunteers still needed?
Yes, we’re looking for someone to help with our social media and website maintenance. We’d also love someone who’s interested in being a ‘donations wrangler’. The longer term goal is that the membership fees cover the wages of a part-time librarian.
Q: What’s next for the Sydney Library of Things?
You can sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know! We’ll also be holding a fund raising garage sale when we reopen to help cover some of our costs such as insurance. We’re currently doing an introductory monthly membership until the end of the year. These start at $9 for concession. What a bargain! And will let you borrow up to 5 items each borrowing period