top50stl economic development idea of the week: the library of things

I’m always on the lookout for businesses or ideas that make Saint Louis a special place to live. Without a doubt, in my mind, one of the highlights to living in Saint Louis County is the quality of the public library system. It really is an exceptional resource, already included in our taxes and available to every resident. My wife and I use the online system all the time to request books, CDs and movies. When the items are ready, we receive an email alert that they’re ready to pick up and when we walk in, the items are conveniently located on a separate shelf filed under our last name.

One of the things I’ve wanted for a long time is a business that allows you to check out anything. The truth is that I have lots of things in my basement and garage that I don’t use on a daily basis and I’m sure many people are in the same boat. I also gladly allow my neighbors to borrow tools and other things when they need to and they are nice enough to reciprocate. I’ve often wondered if we could spread this idea around to a larger group of people. I’ve always called it the Barter Bank, but I recently discovered an effort by the public library system in Sacremento, CA called the Library of Things.

So, my idea is to start a library of things, anything. Wheelbarrows, shop vacs, glue guns, ladders, snow shovels, etc. We could start by collecting all the things in our homes that we are only using from time to time and store them in a shared location. When you need something, check it out. While you’re not using it, others have the option to check it out. It would be another great, shared resource we could all enjoy.

I even have the perfect location to get started (well, for me anyways). There is a commercial building in Twin Oaks at the intersection of Big Bend and 141 that most recently housed a Schnucks market. It is conveniently located near the Grand Glaize branch of the St. Louis County Library and would make a great space for a trial run.

Sacramento, CA Library of Things

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