ShareFest 2019: What we learnt

Maurice, Alex and Heather attended the first gathering for established tool libraries and libraries of things in the UK – ShareFest 2019. We had a great day meeting people from every corner of the UK and sharing our ideas and experiences about how we work in our communities to bring people together to promote sharing, reduce waste, and save money.  

Getting a tour of the Crystal Palace Library of Things
Photo: Alex Mates

Here’s our three takeaways from the day:

  1. There’s no right or wrong way to run a Library of Things – we all have different business models, locations, software, promotions, staffing arrangements – but we are all joined by a common passion for promoting a sharing economy and reducing waste in our communities.

  2. The people who work in Libraries of Things are passionate, interesting and come from many different backgrounds – there was a real diversity of skills and backgrounds but a united passion and enthusiasm. And after a name game – we all demonstrated our impressive memory and learnt each others’ names without name tags!

  3. We have great optimism for what the movement of Library of Things could grow into – we are just the start – the first 11 libraries that could soon be just some of hundreds!

The other libraries are both just like us, and so different as well and we look forward to working with the other eleven libraries from:

A huge thank you to the London Library of Things for hosting, to B&Q for sponsoring the event (and bringing all the libraries a £100 voucher to spend – we look forward to thinking about what we’ll use this for!), to Eden Project Communities for being our Network partner and facilitating the day for us, and to Neal from Belfast Tool Library for capturing some great photos of the day.

We look forward to keeping in touch, developing the next steps together, and growing our movement!

10 things to do this Autumn in and around Oxford

As the leaves change colour, the mornings get a little crisper, and the days a little shorter – we’ve put together a list of 10 things to do to make the most of the season:

  1. Go apple picking – why not borrow our extendable apple picker (£5/week) to help? It means you’ll get the nicest and juiciest apples right at the top of the trees. As for where to find the apples? Check out the Oxford Wild Food Map.
  2. Make some pumpkin soup – October is filled with pumpkins, but don’t just carve your pumpkins – eat them! Good Food Oxford is running a Pumpkin Festival from 26 October to 3 November. Visit their website to get some great recipes and find an event near you.
Autumn is a great time for tasty pumpkins!
  1. Plant some bulbs to enjoy next Spring – gardening teaches such patience, but imagine how lovely it will be when your bulbs emerge after the cold winter. RHS has some handy advice about planting bulbs and pop past the Library to borrow a garden fork or hoe (£3/week each) 
  2. Make some warm spiced cider or juice– nothing signals the start of the cooler months than warm spiced drinks. Simmer some up and get the house smelling like Autumn. You could borrow our big pot (£5/week) if you’ve invited friends around to enjoy as well!
  3. Watch fireworks for a good cause – while the sky will be ablaze with fireworks for Guy Fawkes on 5 November, get in early on Saturday 3 November for Oxford’s 51st Annual Charity Fireworks display and support their many charities.
Fireworks fill the skies in early November
  1. Bake a pie – have some spare apples, or some pumpkin, or how about some tasty berries? Autumn is perfect pie weather so spend an afternoon in the kitchen becoming a master pie baker. BBC Food has you covered for some recipes, and we’ve got the baking beads (£1.50/week) for blind baking (Never heard of them, or don’t know how to use them? You’ve got an afternoon of learning ahead!) 
  2. Learn something new at a museum – a great place to spend a rainy day! There are plenty of great museums in Oxford, or if you want to do some at home discovery you could borrow a telescope (£15/week) to see the stars, or a microscope (£12/week) to get a closer look.
  3. Visit the Arboretum – and marvel at the coloured leaves. You could get a double dose of Autumn and go on 12 October for the Arboretum Autumn Fair.
  4. Fix up broken items – dust off those things that have seen better days and see what you can do to get it functional again! There is plenty of advice on google, or bring it to the experts at the next Share Oxford Repair Café on 3 November.
Visit a Repair Cafe to give a new life to broken items – it’s better than throwing them away!
  1. Watch an educational documentary – there are some screenings like ‘Waste! The Story of Food Waste’ at Tap Social on 8 October, or if you’re more of a Netflix at home person – you could check out “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” or the stunning “Blue Planet II”

So get on out and make the most of Autumn – winter will be here before you know it bringing with it the madness of the festive season!

October is a beautiful month…

Freya says: “October is a beautiful month of autumnal colours and first frosts. Crisp, blue-sky days are the perfect time to tidy up and cut back in the garden. 

Why not borrow one of our garden shredders to help you turn that great pile of twigs, leaves, hedge cuttings, etc. to a manageable bulk for you compost bin or heap. Your garden will be spotless in no time.”

garden-mulcher shredder


New items in the last month

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

Fruit picking time


Maurice says: “So many apples and pears are just out of reach and you have to pick them off the floor after they have been bruised by gravity. Or climb the tree, but don’t lean out too far. Or climb an unsteady ladder.

Instead, you could borrow our extendable fruit picker which will give you that extra reach to get your produce down safe and unharmed. Your friends and neighbours will be delighted at what you can then share with them.”

Down time is time for games and puzzles.

Heather says: “Puzzles always remind me of long summer holidays as a kid. We weren’t going away for a long holiday this summer so wanted to do something to make home feel more like holidays – so we borrowed a puzzle.

It’s great to be able to borrow puzzles, because they become less interesting once you’ve done them a few times – this way you can borrow new and different ones each time

Check out all our puzzles and games.

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

Summer is also perfect for jam making using local berries and fruit.

Susan says, “I like to take advantage of the abundance of summer fruit and berries to make jams, simple ones like strawberry, but blended ones like blackberry with blueberry, gooseberry with strawberry, or even greengage with Victoria plums. I have found the large cooking pot to be useful in making 6lb or larger amounts of jam. I plan on borrowing the pot again in the autumn to make my favourite apple and tomato chutneys.”

Summer is the right time for ice cream

So, as Theresa says: “I was bored of the standard supermarket ice cream flavours, so decided to borrow this machine and see what I could whip up.  I found lots of easy recipes online and made some delicious peanut-butter-choc-chip ice cream. Sweet, savoury, sorbet…borrow this ice-cream maker and get creative in the kitchen!

Summer is also when we go away to other places, so you may want to look in our travel or camping categories.