Adding to our popular seed library and plant swap, Christine has painted up a beautiful cabinet for a Book Swap, which you’ll find outside our window at Makespace. Come and contribute some favourite books or help yourself any time! And why not drop off a cutting whilst you’re there…
Author: SHARE Oxford
We’re excited to announce our first crowdfunder project, to secure funds for our next 12 months and allow us to open three days a week, a key step towards doubling the impact of our Library of Things.
Since opening in 2019, our Library of Things has grown fast, with a stock of more than 600 Things, and made more than 3100 hires, each of which has helped someone do something they couldn’t, or saved them buying unnecessary stuff, and of course saved them money.
Our biggest opportunity to reach more people is to be more accessible by opening more days every week.
To ensure we offer a quality, safe experience for all our customers, we have a paid, trained member of staff managing all shifts, supported by volunteers. This crowdfunder will give us enough funds to take on an additional member of staff, to open three days a week, helping more people to share.
Our ambition is that, within a year, this extra day’s opening together with a big splash on getting the word out there will double the number of hires we make every month. If we succeed, the Library of Things should become financially self-sustaining, supported entirely by our wonderful community.
Thank you to all our supporters!
Read our 2021-22 Impact Report
Curious to know what our top-hired item is? Keen to understand how we’re funded? Just love a pie chart?
Our latest impact report is now up online, with details of all the sharing and repairing we got up to from July 2021 to June 2022 as we enjoyed a strong bounce back after COVID.
Would you like to help us learn more?
We’re keen to hear from anyone interested to help us understand our impact better. Maybe you’d like to support us with a simple case study (what you did with things hired from the Library of Things or how our Repair Cafés helped you bring something back to life), analyse our customer feedback, or set up embodied carbon tracking?
Whatever sounds interesting, we’d love to hear your ideas! Give Ben a shout.
New: plant swap!
Building on the popularity of the seed library, Christine has set up a plant swap!
If you’ve got any spare seedlings or small plants which will survive in this sheltered outdoor cabinet, please pot them up (we have some spares in the tray at the bottom of the cabinet, or show off your newspaper pot-making skills) and bring them down. A waterproof note saying what they are will also help people work out what they could use.
And of course, if you would like a plant for your home or garden, do come down and help yourself.
The plant swap lives outside our window at Makespace so come and help yourself or donate plants any time. Or stop by when the Library’s open and test Christine’s plant-identification skills before you grab one!
Christine is always keen to hear feedback and suggestions for this sort of sharing idea, so do reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any thoughts or ideas.
We’re looking forward to joining CAG Oxfordshire and partners to share our reflections after launching three more Libraries of Things in Oxfordshire.
With support from CAG Oxfordshire and the County Council, Oxford Wood Recycling, Bicester Green and Sustainable Wantage have all launched Libraries of Things. We hope that sharing some of the lessons we’ve learned here at SHARE Oxford since we started in 2019 has helped them get further faster!
Join us on Thursday 4th May 12-1pm to hear how we got on, ask questions and hopefully come away ready to launch a Library of Things in your community!
Back on the BBC!
If you’re missing our co-founder Maurice, you’ll love this slot on BBC iPlayer. The team at Morning Live got in touch keen to re-run the short film they made with us in 2020, with Maurice, Giles and some familiar Makespace faces talking about our Library of Things and Repair Cafés.
Whilst it’s still up online, check out about 36 minutes into the link below!
We’d love to produce more videos, showing people what we do at SHARE Oxford, what it’s like to volunteer as a Librarian or a Repairer for example. If you would like to help us create some, we’d love to hear from you!
On Saturday 15th April, 10am – 3pm, we’re delighted to be taking part in the OVADA Jumble, as part of this year’s Marmalade Festival.
Marmalade is an open collaboration between different individuals and organisations in Oxford, who come together to help shape a better Oxford. The highlight of their calendar is the annual festival where groups explore work shifting power and delivering better services for everyone. It’s worth checking out all the other events they have coming up.
OVADA are are an artist-led arts centre with a warehouse gallery, studios and an engagement programme striving to reflect the community through supporting the delivery of artistic activities that are welcoming for all.
For the Jumble, over the Friday and Saturday, OVADA’s warehouse space will be filled with activities, workshops, and sharing money saving hacks. Waste 2 Taste will deliver a workshop to show us how to make affordable meals, there will be jumble sale stalls, mutual care activities and community discussion, and the SHARE team will be on-hand to help with sharing, with a small team of repairers either able to help with walk-in repairs on the day or point you to a future Repair Café (with our next one happening the day after, on Sunday 16th).
We’re looking forward to learning more ways we can help our community, hopefully supporting people on the day, and we look forward to seeing you there!
Rom Gregory has been volunteering with us for a year and kindly put together these thoughts on her experience at the Library of Things. Thank you for all your help over the last year, Rom!
One of the most surprising things about volunteering at the SHARE Oxford Library of Things is how automatic it’s become for me to buy, sell and give away my own things via Gumtree, Freecycle, Olio and neighbourhood WhatsApp groups. My elderly Mum wants a mobility scooter? No worries – I source one in hours. I want to pass on some barely worn shoes to someone with less fussy feet? A day later they are gone. I need a water container to take camping? No problem, I can borrow it from the Library of Things for free as a volunteer.
I got interested in the Library of Things when I went with a friend to check out the SHARE Oxford Repair Café a few years ago. There was Maurice, sitting in a chair it looked like he spent his life in, entirely surrounded by a weird and wonderful collection of strange items. A unicycle was hanging from the ceiling, a guitar hung at a jaunty angle on the wall, along with tools, tents, mysterious boxes and gardening equipment that could do serious harm in the wrong hands. So, when I retired last year, I got in touch and asked about volunteering.
I’ve been going weekly for a year, doing anything from oiling chainsaws to patching gazebos. I’ve especially enjoyed persuading a leaky carpet cleaner to stop leaking, finding out how to use a thermal imaging camera (and getting some great photos of colleagues in mysterious shades of red and green), and finding a replacement mirror that just fitted snugly in the bottom of a Microscope. I’ve been on training as an electrical safety (PAT) tester so now I poke around with the test probe trying to find the best spot to make a circuit and check the safety of all sorts of electrical equipment. I poked at the (rather terrifying) garden shredder in about 5 places before finding just the right nut that exposed a clean metal surface.
I arrived just as Ben was starting and Maurice was moving on. Ben, and an excellent volunteer, Ye, were very welcoming. We worked together masked and with the windows open through the later stages of the pandemic. Ben was busy ensuring a new level of organisation, tying maintenance of items to the library database, overseeing Genevieve carefully labelling all the items with their IDs. It is not that things were disorganised before, it just seemed that a lot was in Maurice’s head, and it could be very tricky for newbies to locate items.
Since Christine joined in Autumn ’22 the atmosphere has changed again. We now have a wildflower seed bank, neat and tidy drawers and a new focus on items that are fun and family friendly as well as the big ticket items. The candy floss maker, chocolate fountain and glitter ball are all popular for parties. Her mark 2 labelling system means we can be sure the thing we are loaning to a customer is actually what they asked for. In the early days Christine and I would quietly converse about some unidentifiable object (to us), such as a Frame Saw. Was this collection of unpromising bits of metal actually it, how did it fit together, and how did it work?
I think my proudest moment was riding off on the courier bike across Oxford to make a delivery. I haven’t done it again. Reflecting why not, I think it’s because the bike is pretty heavy and it was doubtful who was in charge on some of the tighter corners, me or the bike. My worst moments have been when yet again something doesn’t work for me, then Ben takes one look at it, and it works perfectly! So annoying (but handy).
I love the ethos and role of the library – providing a service to help us all adjust to a reduce, reuse, repair, recycle economy. Even as a little girl I’d always loved fixing things and understanding how they worked. In another life and at another time I might have become an engineer. I also love being involved in the early stages of positive changes. I’ve gone from: working for Women’s Aid in the 80s – the early days of women having a real alternative to staying in violent relationships; working as one of the relatively few women in IT from the late 80s onward, and then retraining as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in my 50s, at a time the NHS was first rolling out talking therapies. So the Library of Things really appealed to me as a movement at this time of ever more pressing Climate Crisis. It’s part of a movement that is trying to build a ‘new normal’ for us all. It’s done a great job so far for me, and I expect for all our customers, staff and volunteers.
Celebrating our 4th birthday!
Thank you to all the volunteers who joined us on Saturday 18th Feb and contributed delicious food for a “pot luck” to celebrate our 4th birthday. It was lovely to take a moment to catch up without busily cleaning gazebos or repairing kitchen appliances! And exciting to imagine what we’ll be celebrating at our 5th birthday too…
A special shout out to Allan’s daughter in law for the birthday cake!
We’d love to hear from you if you’d be interested to join our volunteer team, whether regularly helping at the library and repair cafés, helping behind the scenes and online, or joining for one-off events. Do get in touch with email@example.com.
Join our facebook group to help organisations find the stuff they need.
This year’s Black Friday / Buy Nothing Day seems particularly poignant. COP27’s outcome reminds us how far we have to go in reducing resource usage, yet discounts will be welcome as people make ends meet in a cost-of-living crisis. Personally, seeing 50 former colleagues and friends face uncertainty following Joules’ collapse into administration (after a summer where people hadn’t spent enough) was a stark reminder of the challenges of reaching a sustainable, lower-consumption society.
At SHARE Oxford, we’re committed to helping our community on this journey, and sharing ideas and lessons more broadly. With our focus on sharing and repairing stuff, and inspired by the generous people who donate items for our Library of Things, we thought how about a “Sharing Black Friday” to launch a new service supporting community groups and charities with stuff we can spare.
Our facebook group SHARE Oxford Community Sharing allows these groups to request anything they need, and we can all help find it. From furnishing homes for homeless people, to sourcing the basics families need, to kitting out some of the new “warm spaces” that are helping people through the winter, we hope this will be a powerful way to find a meaningful home for things you don’t need, and a valuable resource for the wonderful projects underway in our community.
So, our Black Friday ask is to please consider joining the group. Can you introduce the initiative to an organisation who might benefit, or help source something that’s been requested, and help your community to save money, save waste and save the planet?
As ever, we’ll be pleased to hear your thoughts and suggestions on how we can take this further and share more. Email Ben on firstname.lastname@example.org.