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Consider insurance, laws and policies when starting up a lending library.


For library start-ups, it is important to consider insurance for your space and library collection to cover from theft, damage and fire. Lending libraries most commonly secure policies for the following:

  • General Liability Insurance - Coverage for injuries that are a result of using the items distributed by a lending library or when someone is injured during general operations.
  • Volunteer Insurance - Covers an organization or group in the event that a volunteer is harmed while carrying out their role.
  • Property Insurance – An insurance policy that protects an individual, group or organization in the event of damage or theft.


Ensure you research and follow City of Calgary process and bylaws when determining the location of your library.

Legal considerations

Depending on the size and scope of your library, it may be a good idea to consult with a lawyer to review your lending library prior to starting your project. If you cannot afford a lawyer you can usually find someone willing to offer pro-bono services to review your project. It is important to have waivers of liability completed to protect you and to have these vetted through lawyers to ensure you are covered.

Policies and expectations

Before launching and, if possible, with input from the community, it is important to create policies and expectations for your lending library. How many items can people check out at one time? Will there be late fees for items that aren’t returned on time? Will you have sliding scale membership payments? How often will membership dues be collected? How will you collect them?

Make your policies clear and fair—something that everyone can stand behind. These then should be written up and included in a membership loan agreement so that everyone using the library understands the terms of use.