Lending libraries - planning and engagement
When starting a lending library, it is important that you to define the goals of your project. Ask yourself what are you hoping to achieve from this project and how can it benefit the community. You may want to explore other lending libraries in your city and consider what they lend and what processes they use.
Next, consider how you can create something that fits the needs of your community. This will involve laying out a clear plan to get your project off the ground. From there, it is important to plan how you will get other people excited about your idea. Here are some suggestions:
- Form a committed group that can help make decisions about the library
- Learn what skills and talents your group has to help in the development of the lending library
- Include people diverse in culture, age, economic backgrounds, skills and talents to ensure richness in the development of your project
Questions to consider
- Why are you starting a lending library?
- What kind of library do you want to start?
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- Who is the lending library for? How are you going to be intentional about reaching your target group?
- What are the needs of the community?
- Are there any other lending libraries that you can connect with?
- Who needs to be a part of organizing the lending library?
- What skills and resources do you need to look for to support this idea?
- What is the role of the committed group?
- What is the role of the volunteers?
- How are decisions made?
- What are the lines of communication?
- What is the sustainability plan?
- How can people provide feedback?
- How do volunteers feel appreciated?
Understanding your community
To better understand what type of lending library to start, it is a good idea to get to know the community and identify the needs of the neighbourhood and the gaps or issues that exist.
Ways to get to know your community
- Look at demographic and socio-economic information about your neighbourhood (who lives here, what are their ages, backgrounds and what issues are they experiencing)
- Check out your community association for any historical information and stories
- Participate in or host your own Jane’s Walk (a walking tour around your neighbourhood)
- Walk around your community and get to know the assets and challenges for your community
- Chat with organizations in the community to see what the needs are and if any assessments have already been completed
- Walk around your neighbourhood to identify: opportunities, assets, gaps, spaces, gathering places, services, accessibility