Keen to start a Tool Library? This blog will tell you everything you need to know to get up and running in less than 30 days.
What is a “Tool Library” or “Library of Things”?
Tool Libraries/Libraries of Things/Sharing Groups are popping up all over the world as ways for communities to come together to make better use of what they have. The concept is simple - for less than the cost of one thing per year (a hedge trimmer, chocolate fountain, pizza oven, drama prop), you get access to thousands of items across your community; without having to own and store them all yourself!
Surely there are lots of people keen to sign up?
Totally! People love these things, and it’s not unheard of for libraries/sharing groups to quickly get their first 500 sign ups. It’s for people with a conscience that believe it’s better for the planet, better for the pocket and better for the places we live.
Well the thing is, after the initial flurry of interest, library/sharing group organisers can then spend years (no misprint unfortunately) battling to try and get a space to store their stuff, or are otherwise tied up in endless knots trying to sort out insurance. But, it is worth fighting for and many have broken through to start some very cool communities worldwide!
Can it be done quicker?
Yes indeed it can be 😊. 30 days to be precise. All you gotta do is follow the bouncing ball. We’ve prepared draft emails and posts to copy and send, and also sorted out your insurance and space issues.
Step One – “bend the mind”
Say what now? I said “bend the mind”. Sorry to get weird on you straight away, but to get this up and running quickly you will need to start with a shift in mindset. It starts with this question:
Why would you start with a centralised physical space to store all your items?
We live in a hyper-networked world. People are connecting together all over the globe. We don´t need to centralise things anymore. All you need to kick things off is a network of people that are keen to be a part of a Library of Things/Sharing Group, and who are happy to rent out their stuff (but keep it stored at their home). There are several advantages to this model including: it takes away the complexities of having to manage inventory, items are available 7 days per week, no need to pay for a space to store your things and coordinate volunteers to facilitate transactions.
This doesn´t mean you can´t have a centralised location as well, but they take a bit of time to set up (and some groups are still trying to find a space, or insurance, after years of hard work). The key to getting started is to join people together in a de-centralised network so they can start sharing stuff, and get the benefits straight away.
You with me? If so, please proceed to step 2.
Step Two – pick your platform
It can actually be quite tricky to manage all of the items people are keen to make available. It can also be really expensive.
With limited budgets faced by most Library of Things/Tool Library startups, you probably want that number to be around......let´s say.......zero dollars.
That´s where Hey Fritz comes in. Hey Fritz is a peer-to-peer platform which has been designed to let groups build up Library of Things/Sharing Group communities.
All you need to do is decide whether you would like a specific tag to identify members of your group, or whether you are happy for just anyone to join.
-Cool tag identified
-Don´t see any reason to have a tag - I’m happy for anyone to join
Step Three – protect your flock
Let’s make sure you have the right insurance.
If you have decided to go with Hey Fritz, you can tick this off straight away - you are covered by the Hey Fritz Guarantee. Check out the Hey Fritz FAQs for more information.
- Insurance sorted?
In three simple steps we have pretty much just catapulted you two years down the track.
Step Four – Clearly you are on to a good thing - start spreading the word
Believe it or not, you are actually ready to start spreading the word. We´ve prepared the following templates to help you out:
Email: We have two draft emails for you to edit and send to your contacts:
- Group Email - drafted to put the idea to groups you might be a part of (send us an email at email@example.com if you would like a copy)
- Interest Building Email - drafted to test interest with your contacts (send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a copy)
Social Media posts: Posting to social media is a really important way to extend the reach of your awesome new Library of Things/Sharing Group. We have prepared posters and drafted text for you to draw from. Consider posting on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. What other platforms might your target audience be using?
Consider sending five different posts reinforcing the same message, daily to weekly depending on what you think will be appropriate for your audience. Email us at email@example.com for a host of free drafts you can draw from.
Step Five: Generate social media sharing links and send a second round of emails
Social media sharing links are links that your fans can click on which automatically open up a pre-populated social media post for them to share with their contacts. Pretty cool huh?!
The following site takes you through the process of generating the social media sharing links that you can send to your contacts in your second round email. You can draw on your previous posts for wording:
Once you have the social media links you can paste them into an email or message to send out to your contacts (please email as at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like an example to draw from). To generate interest and keep up the momentum you will need to send two or more extra rounds of emails.
Step 6: Work with your community to help improve the experience
Setting up a Library of Things/Sharing Group isn’t just about people getting things they need. It's about community. Keep in touch with people that showed an interest to let them know how it is going, involve them in planning and decisions about the future, provide forums for them to share photos or stories about their experiences, and even organise fun, in person parties/functions (getting people to bring along the weirdest item they have available for rent with a prize for the best is a fun event to run).
A final word
A word of encouragement - you are doing a great thing. People like you make the world a better place. Your efforts will improve community connections and quality of life, reduce waste, and be a lighthouse for others to follow.
The Hey Fritz team is here to support you through each step in the process, so please get in touch if there is any help or advice we can provide along the way. We are only an email away; email@example.com.