Public libraries have been successfully demonstrating the benefits of a sharing economy way before businesses like Uber and Airbnb were on the scene. As pioneers of this operating model, libraries have set the standard for increasing access to resources and spaces for their individual users. The rise in popularity of the sharing economy presents libraries new opportunities for community partnerships.
Libraries can collaborate with local organizations to curate circulating collections with items or services that promote the goals of both parties. What are some of popular interests in your community? How can you meet the needs of people interested in sharing? Relevant programming can be coupled with a unique collection to create enhanced learning experiences. Below are some general ideas that will hopefully inspire you to get sharing!
- STEM Sharing: Collaborate with a local astronomical society to loan telescopes and provide programming on constellation spotting and mapping.
- Sports Sharing: Partner with local sports clubs to lend tennis racquets, skis, snowboards, camping gear and other equipment.
- Nature Sharing: Partner with a local community garden, nature preservation or 4H club to start a seed library.
- Music Sharing: Find a local music club or ensemble group and develop a circulating musical instrument collection and programming.
- Art Sharing: Work with a ceramics or potter’s club to circulate a pottery wheel or share kiln services.
- Textile Sharing: Partner with a local quilting, sewing or knitting group to loan sewing machines or knitting needles and crochet hooks.
- Tools Sharing: Start a tool library with a woodworking or metal working club to lend tools. Kitchen tools are also another option.
Embracing the sharing economy and collaborating with local organizations is a great way to strengthen partnerships and create added value for your patrons. Is your library already sharing nontraditional items? Let us know in the comments below!
Sophie Kenney is a Youth Services Librarian at the Vernon Area Public Library District and currently serves on the ALSC Liaison to National Organizations Committee.