I cannot remember the last time I visited the library. I own a Nook and download books that I wish to read. Most people have the ability to do this on their iPads, iPhones, and reading tablets. So why visit the library? Will libraries become obsolete as we continue growing in our digital world? Maybe not. Have you ever checked out a sewing machine from your local library? What about a guitar or a 3D printer? If you haven’t, you might soon. Public libraries across the country are housing so-called “libraries of things,” from which people can borrow useful items for a short time instead of buying them outright. This is a largely hidden feature of the growing “sharing economy,” but it may be poised to take off as many Americans become increasingly concerned about waste and environmental sustainability.

There is something called the “sharing economy” which shows the ownership of many types and varied products to decrease in favor of accessing these products on an on-demand basis. Take Uber and AirBnB for example…..these are two very well known companies that exemplifies sharing for the public.  But public libraries were sharing before sharing was cool, lending books and other goods to people.

The Library of Things program at the Sacramento Public Library is one of the best examples of a nonprofit sharing economy springing up in a public library. The Sacramento Public Library launched the program after patrons began requesting decidedly non-literary items, like sewing machines and specialized cookware. The generation coming up doesn’t necessarily want to own things. We see this in our housing industry as well. Many of them are renting instead of owning a home.

The Sacramento Public Library says that they share a lot of what they call “lumpy things” which are defined as things that people tend to use infrequently and are inconvenient to keep around their homes. Like a crock pot! There are libraries across the country who are adopting this practice and have items to share such as tools, art work, cooking utensils and sewing machines. I think this is a great idea!

The public library which has always been an American institution may be making a come back with it’s Library of Things. Check out your local public library to find out if they are sharing items other than books!