Creating a sustainable ‘library of things’

Altamura, Italy

Challenge team: Agorateca Community Library and Agorateca Community

Summary: Working with the local community, the Agorateca Community Library in Altamura, Italy, is exploring how to support sustainable urban regeneration by encouraging people to share resources.

The Agorateca Community Library started life in 2019 in a disused building in a suburban district of Altamura in the Apulia region of Italy – an area at high risk of social and educational deprivation. 

Co-managed by the non-profit Link, the library provides a range of services to local residents and supports other activities too, including book presentations, concerts, conferences and exhibitions. 

The Biblioteca delle Cose (or ‘library of things’) challenge team is a collaboration between the Agorateca Community Library and the local community to launch a range of activities that challenge the traditional role of the library as a place to read and borrow books – at the same time as supporting sustainable urban regeneration in the area.

Activities include: setting up a physical ‘library of things’ where local residents can collect and share tools as part of the circular economy; and setting up an open source material archive for collected and pre-loved donated materials.

The library of things allows local residents of all ages to save money and reduce waste by renting out tools and other items that can be used for crafting, creativity, DIY and hobbies. These initiatives not only encourage more sustainable living, they also attract more people to the library – in turn creating a more cohesive, inclusive and supportive community and encouraging neighbours to share practical skills with each other.

The challenge team said: “We have decided to carry out this project to offer the whole community a further possibility for active participation in our library. We want the library of things to be one of the tools that allows users of different ages to connect – an intergenerational space.”

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