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Borrow don’t Buy: Oxfordshire’s Circular Economy gets a boost

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Jet wash your patio once a year? Need a gazebo for a large garden party or fancy starting a new hobby but want to try out the kit before committing? Wouldn’t it be great if instead of buying a new high ticket item that takes up a lot of space, you could just borrow it for a bit?

Picture: Ben Tuppen coordinates SHARE Oxford’s Library of Things.

A Library of Things is exactly that. You can borrow items you need rather than buying new. It works especially well for those items that you use rarely and take up a lot of space. It is an affordable and more environmentally friendly way to get the things you need. You can borrow glasses for a party, tools for a project and even a cargo bike! There are now around 50 Libraries of Things around the UK.

Oxfordshire County Council and Community Action Groups Oxfordshire (CAG Oxfordshire) has been working with Oxford’s existing Library of Things at SHARE Oxford to develop the availability of these libraries around Oxfordshire with three new sites now offering the service. Bicester Green, The Mix in Wantage and Oxford Wood Recycling all now have their Libraries of Things up and running and ready for customers.

It’s simple to use. All libraries have a website where you can create an account and book the items you need. You pay a small fee for borrowing for the week and then pop along to collect your item, use it, then return it for the next customer. The libraries make sure all items are fit for purpose and ready and safe to use.

To promote the services and offer a fun way to teach kids about the libraries, Oxfordshire County Council’s network of 44 traditional libraries are running a treasure hunt in the children’s area over the month of June to help promote the Library of Things. There are eight clues for children to answer, which are common items to borrow from a Library of Things, and each item has a printed picture to be found.

On the individual quiz sheets, children are encouraged to colour in the pictures. There is a QR code which the accompanying adult can scan to find out more information about what a Library of Things is and what they can borrow, rather than buy – there may be something available to get out in nature for Great Big Green Week which runs from 10th-18th June with events all across Oxfordshire.

Katherine Chession, Director of Community Action Groups Oxfordshire says

Community Action Groups Oxfordshire is thrilled to have the opportunity to support these three new services in Oxford. Using the blueprint from SHARE Oxford and the learning they have gained over the last three years has been invaluable and we look forward to seeing the libraries being utilised locally and supporting more Community Action Groups wanting to create similar opportunities in their local communities. We are grateful to Oxfordshire County Council for their commitment to developing the circular economy.

Cllr Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “Libraries of Things are fantastic projects and we congratulate our Community Action Groups for helping to expand them across the county. During a climate emergency and a cost of living crisis, they are just what people need to save money and reduce waste – it’s a real win-win.”


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