Library of things
Supporting sustainable urban regeneration by encouraging people in need to reuse waste materials and 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.
Working in collaboration with the local community, the challenge team wanted to explore how to support sustainable urban regeneration by encouraging local people to come together and share resources.
With the help of volunteers, they set up Biblioteca delle Cose (or ‘library of things’), which inspires locals to get involved in an initiative that both saves money and demonstrates how materials can have a second life.
Biblioteca delle Cose works like a classic book library: each of the 1,500 members can borrow an item for up to a month and return it when they have finished using it – whether for crafting, creativity, DIY or hobbies. Users can donate tools and materials and make them available for the community – helping to reduce waste and create a circular economy.
This not only encourages more sustainable living, it also attracts more people to the library – in turn creating a more cohesive, inclusive and supportive community and encouraging neighbours across generations to share practical skills with each other.
As part of the initiative, the challenge team has also set up a database to help share innovative techniques for reusing waste materials.
The goal is to offer the service to the broader community and not just to people who are familiar with the library space. The challenge team has started to collaborate with other communities in the area that are tackling similar challenges. They are keen to develop other similar initiatives elsewhere.
They are also working with research organisations and universities that study the recycling of materials to help develop their materials database.
To help make the project sustainable in the future, they are offering advertising space to companies in the area that use innovative materials (such as green building).