Public Lab Research note

Lending Libraries

by liz | July 18, 2014 16:23 18 Jul 16:23 | #10706 | #10706

Many of us have a tote bag, box, shelf, or even a bookcase full of gear. Many of us loan out this gear to a folks we know personally. Some organizers maintain a centralized storage place for their chapter where anyone can check out equipment. This cycle of storing and loaning could be described as a Lending Library, a concept that's never been formalized within Public Lab but nonetheless is emerging as a strong part of chapter culture.

Gear that individuals have

There is some thought currently going into how individuals can list the equipment they have--and what of it that they'd be willing to loan--through the use of powertags on their profile pages. See

Gear that chapters have

When we think about setting up a lending library to serve a chapter -- such as in NYC, Somerville, New Orleans, plus one just starting in Chicago -- there are some additional questions that arise, here are just a few:

  • What stuff do we need in our lending library?
  • What stuff can be used again and again, and what stuff needs to be continually replaced?
  • Who much will it cost over a year?
  • How do we keep track of what we're loaning out?
  • How do we get stuff back in a hurry when someone else needs it?

Let's discuss!

Let's use the comments area on this research note for a public discussion on what makes a good lending library and how this can be made visible on chapter pages (or profile pages) on


I am really into this kind of thing!

Have you guys looked into your local hacker space/maker lab yet?

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Yes we have many friendships with hackerspaces. :) Many of the shared labs where staff and organizers work are located in varieties of hackerspaces. Any in particular you'd like us to connect with?

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Markdown Links for tool library inventory systems: - -

Parts and Crafts is really interested in this type of project, FYI.

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Beginning wiki here: Add your thoughts to the Talk page!

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I really like the dynamic of people asking each other for kits on the lists, and meeting each other, and thinking about the resources of the distributed network -- so it'd be great to figure out how that model works alongside more formal lending libraries.

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