The Library of Things

The Library of Things

October 1st 2022

I’m a big fan of The Library of Things (check out their website here). They’re a social enterprise that started in 2014 that have quickly grown to cover 7 London neighbourhoods and recently successfully crowdfunded £370,000 to take their concept nationwide.

The premise is simple – working typically in partnership with local authorities, The Library Of Things lends out ‘things’ from Sewing Machines to Strimmers, from Tents to Toolkits for a nominal fee. In addition they also run ‘skill share sessions’ teaching basic skills from DIY to dressmaking to make it easier for people to do, fix or make things themselves.

Admit it – how many ‘things’ do we all have sitting in cupboards or garages gathering dust that we’ve used once or twice? How often have you bought something only to use it once and never again?

The Library of Things encourages sharing, learning and at the same time reduces waste and saves money – what’s not to like?

By this point you may be wondering what any of this has to do with me and/or consulting? As I see it my role as a consultant is very similar to The Library of Things (bear with me here!)

To use an analogy – it you’re fortunate enough to own a property with a garden that contains many trees then it’s probably worth investing in a chainsaw for dealing with the frequent fallen branches or felling the occasional dead tree. Alternatively, perhaps, like me, you live in a flat and (hopefully) have no use for a chainsaw. Finally, maybe you have a garden but only one or two trees. Following a storm there are a couple of damaged branches that need removing – you may be fortunate enough to have a neighbour or friend who can lend you a chainsaw, but would you buy a brand new chainsaw for one afternoon on the off chance there’ll be another storm? This is where the Library of Things would come in useful – you could borrow a chainsaw for the day (well locally I can find a reciprocating saw that looks like it would do the job for £8/day – buying new the same product is £150 at Screwfix).

I see myself as a consultant a little like one of the ‘Things’ at the library. Some businesses have a permanent/ongoing need for a particular role or skillset in which case they probably have an employee in that role. Other businesses currently have no need for that role. It’s the third group of companies that have a need for that role but either:

· They only have a temporary need for the role for a specific project, time period or need

· They don’t have the budget for a permanent employee for the role (yet)

In the same way an individual can borrow a saw from The Library of Things, a business can ‘borrow’ my skills for as long as they need them. In both cases it’s almost certainly cheaper, the job gets done quicker when you’re paying by the day and there’s no risk of that saw (of skill) gathering dust in a cupboard in a few months time…

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