Tool lending libraries enabling sustainable community development

SÖDERHOLM, Jonas (2014) Tool lending libraries enabling sustainable community development. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 152 - Environmental Sustainability and Libraries Special Interest Group. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

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Tool lending libraries enabling sustainable community development

Tool lending libraries (TLLs) are a growing niche service, both as part of public library systems and as independent operations. In the present study they are explored as community-based places of borrowing, facilitating non-commercial tool acquisition for community members. Patrons of a US public branch TLL were interviewed regarding their borrowing, and their relation to the library. The participants express a variety of experiences and views, indicating a diverse range of the roles their tool borrowing has. Preliminary results indicate that TLLs seem to relate to sustainability issues on a very local and immediate level. Several patrons recount how in different ways they have been enabled in maintaining and developing their homes and property, more so than they would be from just buying tools. It is not only a matter of the free-of-charge tool access. Equally important seems to be the TLL as a social hub, and the knowledge of staff as a complementary resource to the actual tools. For other patrons, it has been a resource in becoming self-employed by lowering investment thresholds. In these instances the individual TLL has directly affected the community’s occupational situation. Taken together these accounts indicate how TLLs in the views of patrons contribute to local sustainability; social and economic development pared with potentially reduced dependence on industrially manufactured goods. The borrowing of non-traditional materials brings into view yet another role which libraries potentially play in people’s everyday community lives.

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