Community Asset Library

Hi all.

The idea is a community asset library which would allow a community to own and lend from an inventory of infrequently used items. This could include any kind of item but works well for those which are only required a few times per year or less; for example garden gazebos, camping tents, kayaks, bouncy castles, lawn rollers, projectors, power tools, etc. Rather than have to purchase these items individually, or know someone that you can borrow them from, they can simply be booked and loaned from the community inventory.

Items can be received by donation and by charging a subscription fee the cooperative could have buying power, allowing it to purchase new items and replace old/damaged/lost items (self-insurance). 100 households x £5 per month = £6000 per year…

As a POC I hacked together a process and website for managing a distributed catalogue of items and facilitating loan requests. Obviously, a much neater technical solution would be possible, but what are your thoughts on the idea in general?

Feel free to take a look at the site here:
Username: fred
Password: 2P5bSAPCe7


This is great! I’ve been using AirTable for years. I didn’t know you could build forms with it as well.
Certainly a webdev could build out a platform for such a thing (as they have done), but you’ve really accomplished a lot just using pre-built tools.

Related tools that I know of would be:

  • Here in Portland, OR, USA we have several local tool libraries. This one is the oldest:
  • - which bills itself as a sort of cashless craigslist. People post stuff they have, other people can find stuff they want. Everything is free or trade.
  • offers itself as the hyper-local craigslist/Facebook. It’s broken down by neighborhoods, so only your immediate neighbors are in your network, but you can have convos, sell, buy, trade, post alerts, etc. We also have
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Sounds like might be a good tool for people to take a look at also.


Library of things are working on a similar idea and are good people. Get in touch!

They are looking for dev help to improve their equipment loaning system


Have a look at this project that was running in Hackney Wick,

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Interesting to see the different implementations of similar ideas. The tool libraries seem closest to what I’m thinking of (as opposed to a marketplace). And I like the jlord/lending - library — I’ll spend some more time checking out some of the other github options.

Rooster also seems an interesting offering.

I did pitch the idea on our village facebook page and although there was mostly positive and on-the-fence responses, perhaps not many interested in “being the startup folks”. Perhaps I might get more interest out of the city-level (Canterbury)…

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Yep, tool libraries are great things! (apologies in advance for link-dumping :wink: )

Glad someone has already mentioned Library of Things which I assume was directly inspired by Frome’s Share Shop who gots lots of nice press when they opened, see e.g.

Nice little video about it here by Edventure Frome (an awesome community enterprise school - their students made it happen).

Some more links from back when I looked into this stuff in 2012…

I think Green City Action in Sheffield run a tool bank, see:

@chris would likely know if that is still operational (the old link I had for redirects to a webarchitects page! :slight_smile: )

In the US there is a large national network of such things (although they don’t lend to individuals, just to charities):

Here is an article about setting up a tool sharing co-op:

A project I find really interesting is this Comoodle project from Kirklees Council that let’s people and community groups rent out council owned vans/ spaces etc etc for free/ cheap! :slight_smile:

It inspired similar stuff in Amsterdam, see and

For those interested the chap you want to speak to about it is Duggs Carre, Comoodle Project Manager, Kirklees Council who you can see talking about it here:

(one of the people leading the stuff in Amsterdam Femke Haccoû, Urban Innovation Officer, City of Amsterdam spoke just before )

Finally, I’m also reminded of ToolPool in Malmo, Sweden:

“Malmö Hardware Store needed an idea to be able to compete with the giant home improvement chains that are taking over the market. We learned that the stores main earnings comes from supplies, not from expensive tools. So we created ToolPool. It works just like a carpool, but with tools. And it’s for free. All we ask for in return is that you share our message on Facebook. During the very first month, ToolPool received extensive media coverage, over 600 members and sales in the store increased by 25%.”

PS anyone at Space4 got a tent I could borrow this weekend? (to collect Fri eve/ Sat morning from Space4) @polly? :stuck_out_tongue:

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Sorry I don’t know, but one of our members, The Burngreave Messenger, should know as they are based in the same building.

A friend in Sheffield did setup (I think that was the domain name) some years ago but found that he couldn’t get insurance to cover the kit (sound systems, lights, tools etc) so gave up on that idea — this kind of thing might only work with tools of a value that are not worth insuring…?

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This is great @theneilkirk - I’m also a big fan of Airtable for these kind of purposes. I’d be curious to know how you configured the user administration side of things.

I agree. I’d prefer to have a means of “self-insuring” (i.e. have enough purchasing power compared to the value of goods to simply be able to replace them).

Although, as a coop it would also likely affect/be affected by the legal structure (incorporated vs unincorporated, legal form, etc.).

I’d be happy to explain. Give me a little while to document it. It’s not the prettiest solution but I think a paid version of Airtable would introduce features perfectly suited to this!

Just sharing this here too for good measure:

And because the preview doesn’t include what it most relevant here, pasting that for good measure too:

I’ve also recently discovered Snipe-IT which is a powerful open source web designed for IT asset management, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be used for any other type of assets too. Think it could well work well for a Library of Things (that’s kinda sorta what asset management stuff is - think checking out laptops, projects etc at Universities etc):

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