Your Feedback – A Report from our recent survey


We have a number of people who have signed up on our website but not completed the process and actually joined the Library of Things. We also have many people who have joined but never borrowed anything.

This piece of work was to contact these people via email and (gently) ask them if anything in particular stopped them from joining up. This information may well uncover objections we have never thought about that we can change and hence reduce the “friction” in our joining up process and help more people to use the Library of Things.


The key feedback that we can act upon is summarised in the infographic below, along with our brief action plan. Detail of the responses and our analysis/recommendations can be found below. If you have any further feedback or ideas on how we can make the Library of Things easier to use please let us know! You can contact us on


The overwhelming characteristic of pretty much all of the replies was the support for the Library of Things. Many people apologised for not joining up and borrowing something. Many have promised to do better after lockdown!

People who have joined but not signed up as members

Total number of replies to this email was 18 out of 72 sent. At 25%, this is a great rate of return.

Here is an analysis of the responses. Some people fall into more than one category, have borrowed from neighbours, and will borrow bigger items as an example. That’s why the total analysis adds up to more than 18 in this case.

  • 4 people said that COVID/lockdown had delayed them from borrowing
  • 3 people moved out of the area before they had the chance to use LoT
  • 2 people said it worked out cheaper to buy the item than borrow from us
  • 2 people said the membership was very complicated and didn’t want to pay monthly
  • 2 people said that the idea of LoT had prompted them to borrow/lend with neighbours
  • 2 people said they intended to borrow larger items from LoT
  • 1 person said we did not have the particular item that they needed
  • 1 person joined up to see how the system worked so they could set one up in their town
  • 1 person joined out of curiosity but has friends and neighbours to borrow from
  • 1 person said they couldn’t remember why they hadn’t joined but would in the future

People who have joined the library but didn’t borrow:

Total number of replies to this email was 87 out of 328 sent. At 26%, this is a great rate of return

Here is an analysis of the responses. Some people fall into more than one category, have borrowed from neighbours, and find it difficult to get to us as an example. That’s why the total analysis adds up to more than 87 in this case.

  • 17 people said they had moved away from Oxford/Jericho
  • 15 people said that getting to the library/opening times to pick up/return was a problem
  • 9 people said they were preparing to borrow and Covid struck – will borrow post Covid
  • 9 people said they registered to be ready for when they want to borrow – and will
  • 8 people said they ended up borrowing from neighbours/work
  • 7 people said the item they wanted was too expensive
  • 6 people joined to see if we had what they wanted but we didn’t
  • 4 people said that they had hired something from LoT (oops)
  • 2 people said they borrowed under a different account/email address
  • 4 people said they forgot/ didn’t know what we have – would appreciate a monthly update
  • 2 people joined to show support but don’t need to borrow anything
  • 1 person said that the signing up process was confusing and they gave up
  • 1 person said the website was very complicated to navigate
  • 1 person said it was easier to hire someone to do minor jobs
  • 1 person said they were interested in borrowing bulky/expensive items
  • 1 person joined to borrow a specific item they then didn’t need
  • 1 person joined through interest in our repair café
  • 1 person joined to see how it worked and wants to set one up in their town
  • 1 person joined as they thought it was about buying things collectively then sharing
  • 7 auto replies/ undeliverable emails


Here are some highlights from the replies:

  • Clearly there are a few situations we cannot influence; people moving away for example when they leave Oxfordshire. However, a few people regard moving to other areas of Oxford as too far and we may be able to encourage those people to borrow with enhanced delivery.
  • Many people cited the difficulty in getting to the Library to pick things up and to return them, particularly when thinking about borrowing bulky or heavy items. My suggestion here is to publicise our delivery service more widely. I suggest we make a video demonstrating our cargo bike. We can also use this video to recruit volunteer deliverers.
  • Several people mention that COVID has delayed them borrowing so we should anticipate an upturn in borrowing as the restrictions are lifted.
  • In becoming aware of the LoT, people were prompted to borrow from neighbours. This is a great result and exactly what we are setting out to achieve. It would be great to be able to link up with these groups in some way – or at least recognise these groups in some way as being part of the overall thrust to reducing waste etc.
  • There is a theme that it is too expensive to borrow some items, particularly small items, when compared with the cost of buying those items. One suggestion is to bundle several items together to enable a borrower to complete a specific job. Putting up a shelf – here’s a drill/screwdriver/spirit level/extension lead kit as an example.
  • People find the sign-up process too complicated and generally are not supportive of paying monthly with this payment used when they borrow an item. A couple of people thought this was against the values of the LoT
  • Some people have admitted that they had forgotten all about the LoT or didn’t know what we had on offer.
  • With only 6 emails being undeliverable, out of 400 sent, we should be confident that our database is very up to date.


  1. We publicise our delivery service much more. One suggestion is to put together a video both to let people know about this service and to recruit deliverers.
  2. We review the cost of borrowing some of our items. One suggestion is to bundle items together into a kit for specific jobs.
  3. We re-design the process people use to join the LoT to be much clearer.
  4. We implement a revised way of paying for borrowing things by eliminating the monthly subscription and only using PAYG.
  5. We have a separate way of donating to LoT to support our cause.
  6. We consider putting out a monthly email to our members with a reminder of the things we have and any new things added in the month.
  7. We follow up with several individuals who have requested information, volunteered  to donate things, or help us. We also need to remove the email addresses as requested.

If you have any further feedback please let us know! You can contact us on

Allan Smith
Feb 2021


This Black Friday… Borrow! Don’t buy (A special offer)

To mark Buy Nothing Day, and to help you share rather than spend, for one whole week (26th November to 3rd December) we’re offering you the chance to enjoy one free borrow from the Library of Things.

And, there’ll even be a bonus opening on *Friday 29th November*, midday-6pm, as an extra opportunity to pick up an item.

It’s open to anyone to use, whether you’re an active borrower or you’ve never borrowed from us before!

Items of £12 or less are included (that’s ~94% of our 400+ items!). Higher priced items will be discounted by £12. Normal fees will apply to renewals and the offer applies to one item per person.

Reserve your item any time from now! You must book to collect between *Tues 26th Nov* and *Tues 3rd Dec*. The discount will be applied when you come to collect your item/s.

Read more details about this offer here [now closed].


Prepare for a Greener Christmas

Looking to be greener and less wasteful this Christmas? Even the Queen is said to reuse wrapping paper and ribbons, so there are many things we can all do…. Here’s a whole range of ideas from very small to much bigger.

~ Decorations ~

Use what you already have!

  • Already have an artificial tree? Use it as long as possible!
  • If you do need a few more bits, ask your family if they have spares, check out the charity shops and buy second-hand, or make your own…

Create your own decorations

**Start now** save your waste paper, cans, jars, loo rolls and cardboard now to use for your creations!

  • Look in charity shops and your local scrapstore (Orinoco in Oxford) for more resources.
  • There are lots of ideas online, here is one selection.

Make your own advent calendar or invest in a re-usable one

  • Make something unique! You may be surprised just how many ways you can make one – recycle some old card, coloured envelopes, wood or fabric – some ideas here.

~ Buying Gifts ~

Get what they need

**Start now** find out what your family and friends really need!

  • Consider gift vouchers or cash so you don’t give gifts that go to waste.

Quality over quantity

  • Resist the plastic stocking-fillers and multiple cheap gifts – try to focus your spending into fewer, higher-quality items that will last.
  • For kids who have everything – try a “one-gift” policy, or a family “Secret Santa” buying one thing each.

Make gifts

  • Not very crafty? Try home made things from your kitchen: jams and marmalade, sauces and dips, pesto, oils with added herbs, vegan parmesan, baking mixes, chocolate, or home-made cosmetics.


  • Try swapping things you no longer need for things you do with friends, neighbours, or at a community swap shop such as this one for children’s toys and books in Abingdon, 27th Nov 2021.

Gift zero-waste to inspire your friends

  • Re-usable cups and water bottles, bars of soap and shampoo, cleaning products, plant cuttings… You can even support environmental charities when you buy them e.g. Surfers Against Sewage.

Avoid “things” altogether – gift experiences instead

  • Your loved ones might appreciate theatre tickets, arts or cookery courses, repair courses, getting out into nature, or other experiences. There are lots of options in Oxford.
  • Consider sponsorship for a tree or animal via environmental charities.

Buying new?

  • Avoid excessive packaging – you could pack smaller items into your own reusable or recycled wrapping – selection boxes are a great example.
  • Support environmental charities – e.g. Sustrans sell lots of cycling items in their online store.
  • Support local businesses and find local products.
  • Look for fair trade and sustainability.

~ Receiving Gifts ~

**Start now** Think about what you really need and let your friends and family know – they’ll appreciate the ideas, and you’ll get less of things you didn’t need!

Don’t need/want anything? Request “no gifts”

  • Tell people you’re trying to be greener!
  • You could ask for donations to a good cause as an alternative.

~ Wrapping ~


  • Save brown paper bags, newspapers, magazines and calendars
  • Newspaper or magazine picture pages make particularly good eco-wrapping, but any pages will do!
  • Spruce it up with some foraged items

Reusable wrapping

  • Invest in some fabric for family gifts – tie it with string, ribbons or rubber bands (or tie it up as a furoshiki), and re-use it year after year.

Heather says….
My mum made lots of different sized pieces and all our presents would be wrapped in material and held together with ribbons, rubber bands and safety pins (all re-usable!) It is the only Christmas wrapping that I remember having!

Freya says…
I sewed bags for presents some years ago and my friends are still using them, for example, as sponge bag, or as produce bags for zero-waste shopping.

Don’t wrap?

  • For larger items consider using a ribbon or other minimal wrapping rather than huge quantities of new paper – if you do wrap make sure to keep the paper as it can be used again and again!

Prepare for next year

  • Keep those pretty cards to make gift tags, advent calendars and other decorations
  • Save your used wrapping paper instead of throwing it away – use it for decorations next year or just use it again (no one will even notice!)
  • Keep your calendars at the end of the year and use them for wrapping next year (including birthdays!)

~ Tableware ~

Use the tableware you already have

  • Think before you buy those tempting Christmas plates, tea towels, table covers that will sit in the cupboard for 11 months of the year.

Consider renting if you need extra glasses/tableware

  • Avoid single-use plastic for your large gatherings
  • You can rent tableware from some large supermarkets and local company Witney Eco Party Packs
  • You can rent other items for entertaining from us at the Library of Things!

~ Food ~

Cut down on meat

  • Give your guests a veggie treat – there’s lots of inspiration online for tasty and Christmassy meat-free food, e.g. from the vegan society.

Buy unwrapped, local and organic if you can

  • Check out the regular Oxford or Oxfordshire Farmers’ Markets or try ordering an organic veg box.
  • Try your local Zero Waste Shop – take your containers and fill up on all sorts of household items and foods.

Need more tips?

Here are even more green Christmas ideas!

Trying something different this year? Whether big or small, we’d love to hear your stories! Contact us!


Office Move and our New Neighbour

As you’ll know if you’re a regular borrower, we moved into our new, larger space in Makespace a couple of months ago. This has increased our storage space to expand our collection, and given us more comfortable work space, and we’re settling in nicely.

Our new neighbour, using our old space, is Paint Buzz, run by Mary Zacaroli. They’ll be opening at the same times as the Library, so next time you’re nearby, why not drop in and say hello to us both!

Like our repair cafes, Paint Buzz can also help you reduce waste: bring new life to some tired old furniture with their upcycling workshops, run for individuals and organisations. They are also selling Frenchic eco-friendly furniture paint and finishes to help you upcycle.

Find out more on their website:


New items in the last month

Here are some of the new things we’ve added to our Library recently. Have a look and reserve them today! 


Repair Skills mini-workshops

At SHARE Oxford we love helping you to keep your things alive for longer by fixing them at our regular Repair Cafés. However, we also want to empower people to have a go at repairing their own things. Besides being fun and rewarding, it teaches you about how things are made and how they work, and makes you value your things more.

-> A hole repair. With a little practice, this type of small sewing repair can become quick and easy!

We can already help you to access some of the tools you might need via the Library of Things – but what if you don’t have the skills? If you’re one of those people who doesn’t know where to start when something is broken, we want to help you!

Please fill out this survey to let us know what kinds of simple repair you’d be interested in learning, or get in touch via email ( if you have any other ideas!
(If you’ve previously filled this out via the link in the newsletter there’s no need to re-fill, we do have your answers 🙂 )

We will try to demonstrate the most popular skills during our upcoming Repair Cafés (including the next one on Sunday September 1st).

We can help you to access the tools you might need via the Library of Things

Oxfordshire recognised with recycling award for repair café programme

Oxfordshire County council has won an award for recycling electricals in recognition of repair cafés they funded via the CAG network between November 2017 – 2018. Together, a network of 49 electrical repair cafes worked to save nearly two tonnes of TVs, radios, toasters, and other electronic items from being thrown away, helping over 1,500 residents use their items again.

One of our repair café events

We were pleased to be involved in this effort and to continue to run Repair Cafés on an ongoing basis. Our next event is 1st September at Makespace in Jericho and there’s also a Rose Hill repair cafe on 3rd August, along with others around the county. You can of course repair more than just electricals – keep an eye on our website as we confirm which services we’ll be able to offer at the next event.


Volunteer demo evening, Weds 10 July

We need more friendly volunteers to help us run the Library of Things and to expand our opening hours, so we can help even more people to borrow instead of buy.

No experience is necessary, so if you’re enthusiastic and you can spare a few hours per week we’d love to hear from you. You can read more about the role here [link now closed], but if you want a real flavour of what’s involved, come along to our information and demo session on Wednesday 10th July from 6-7pm.

Please get in touch at if you plan to attend, so we have an idea of numbers. If you can’t make it to the event but you’re interested in volunteering please also email us or drop in during our opening hours and we’ll be delighted to tell you more.


More media and some upcoming events

Library of Things ITV feature

You may have spotted us on ITV News last week! If you missed it, you can still catch the video here. We’ve also spoken on a couple of radio shows in other parts of Europe.

Come and see us!

We are of course always very happy to have you pop in to see us at Makespace during our usual opening hours but there are some additional exciting opportunities coming up:

  • Guilty Feminist Live Show – Oxford, 19th June (tickets required) – We’re appearing in a panel discussion at the Guilty Feminist live show this Sunday where we’ll be talking about what we do in both the Library of Things and the Repair Cafés, alongside representatives from other local groups doing great things. You can buy tickets here (note the live shows are not being recorded for their podcast).
  • Big Green Day Out – Oxford, Saturday 8th June (free) – We will have a stall at the Big Green Day Out, and we’d love to see you there! Find out more about the event [link closed].
  • Oxfordshire Zero Waste Festival – Oxford, 16th June (free) – We are supporting this event where you’ll find a repair café, swap shop, food surplus café and more! Find out more [link closed].

SHARE Oxford Annual General Meeting – 9 May

May 9th (Thursday) 2019, 6.30pm- 8.30pm
Makespace, 1 Aristotle Lane, OX2 6LP

All Library and Repair Café volunteers, borrower members of the Library, and representatives of financial supporters of SHARE Oxford are invited to attend this AGM. Please let us know if you intend to attend, in order for us to plan better by emailing

  • The meeting will start at 6.30pm with a short update on the status and progress of the Library of Things and the Repair Cafes by Maurice Herson and Alex Mates.
  • The formal business of the Meeting will then include:
    • presentation of the provisional accounts for financial year 2018/19.
    • Election and/or confirmation of the officers of SHARE Oxford (Chair [currently Alex] and Treasurer [currently Maurice], potentially Secretary). If you are interested in putting yourself forward for one of these roles – or would just like to see what they involve – please email
  • The rest of the meeting will be spent in a discussion of future possibilities for SHARE Oxford, such as:
    • other activities consistent with the vision of SHARE Oxford which we might take on; 
    • considerations for the continuity, frequency etc. of the Repair Cafes; 
    • considerations for the location of the Library after Makespace; 
    • partnerships we might seek; 
    • (if there is time) the nature of ‘membership’ of SHARE Oxford;
    • and any other strategic considerations brought up by attendees.

If you would like to see SHARE Oxford’s Constitution, please email requesting it; copies will also be available at the meeting.