Buying less

I’ve just been in town and there’s a pop-up market selling all sorts of meaningless tat, for christmas I suppose, and getting in before the obscenity of Black Friday. We’ve just had COP26 and yay! we can all look forward to driving electric cars by 2035, or is it 2030 now? but we go on consuming so much unnecessarily.

Talking of Black Friday, for years, since long before Black Friday became a thing in this country, there has been Buy Nothing Day around the start of the big advertising push towards Christmas. It may not sound like fun, but we hope to encourage you to get involved…

Do your bit by resisting the allure of Black Friday and by supporting Buy Nothing Day 2021 on and around November 26th as a detox from consumerism and an opportunity for you to tune into the impact we have on the environment through shopping. People in more than 50 countries around the world will make a pact with themselves to take a break from consumption as a personal experiment or a public statement, and the best thing is – it’s free!!

…and repairing more too

We are again this year doing SHARE Oxford’s bit to combat the consumerism of Black Friday and holding a Repair Café. Our Repair Cafés encourage saving money and resources by keeping the things that you already have going, in preference to throwing them away and replacing them. “The greenest thing is the one you already own”
 

A conversation about the Library of Things

We were delighted when Caroline Wood, a local freelance science writer and podcaster, came in to speak to Maurice and Susan about how the library works. We hope you enjoy having a listen and learning a bit more about the library, the wonderful collection of things people have donated and ways you can live more sustainably by sharing rather than buying, as well as our experiences in the extraordinary last year.

September 4th (Saturday) early closing

For one day only, the Library of Things will be closing early. Hours that day will be 11.30 until 3.30 ONLY.

If you want to reserve items for collection on that day, please be sure to collect them by then, and if you have items to return, please bring them back by then. Very grateful.

All other days are will have normal opening hours.

Recruiting a Project Coordinator for SHARE

This is an exciting moment to take on this role. SHARE Oxford has proved itself to be a going concern and is now due to take the next step in extending its activities and impact. Part-time position on a self-employed basis.

£400 per week for 20 hours a week. Start date: as soon as possible

If you’re interested in knowing more, write to libraryofthings@shareoxford.org for the full role description

First international twinning of Libraries of Things

At today’s AGM we were excited to announce that we have twinned with Zero in Palermo in Sicily https://zeropalermo.it/

Waste reduction cannot be confined to individual countries if we are to make significant change. By linking, not only with other Libraries in the UK, but also with similar initiatives across the world we hope to increase the effect of what we do. Michelangelo of Zero wrote to us: “We are really happy to establish our twinning as a symbol of solidarity, common purpose and international recognition of commitment to shared values. We think that, besides the stated symbolic value, this initiative could lead us to share best practices, project milestones and more.”

We are proud to have initiated this and hope to join up with other Libraries in other countries in the future.

Online meeting

We’re having our AGM on Saturday 15th at 1.30pm. Online again this year, because although it’s fine coming to get ‘things’ from the Library, it’s still not fine to come into the Library or to meet in any numbers. If you fancy being at the AGM, email and ask for the link
libraryofthings@shareoxford.org

Would you like to help guide SHARE Oxford?

SHARE Oxford is aiming to form a group of interested people as trustees who will:

  • help with the strategic direction of SHARE Oxford
  • provide accountability for the coordinator and the volunteers
  • bring specific expertise where needed
  • represent SHARE Oxford to external stakeholders where possible

They may take on specific roles to support the volunteer team. We are specifically seeking people with skills in any of the following areas:

  • Social enterprise governance
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Fundraising

To have at least one of these positions covered by somebody who has previous experience of establishing a community action group or a social enterprise would be invaluable.

To find out more please email us at libraryofthings@shareoxford.org or read more details here.

Your Feedback – A Report from our recent survey

Introduction

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.

Findings

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 libraryofthings@shareoxford.org.

Replies

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

Analysis

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.

Recommendations:

  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 libraryofthings@shareoxford.org.

Allan Smith
Feb 2021