Metro Morning

Borrow anything at Toronto's first 'library of things' this summer

Introducing the Sharing Depot, a new borrow-anything "library of things" that is coming to Toronto.

The library, called the Sharing Depot, is fuelled by three principles: money, empowerment, universalism

The Sharing Depot claims it will be Canada's first library of things. (The Sharing Depot)

Going camping in Algonquin Park requires a bit of gear: a tent, some cooking equipment, sleeping bags, among other necessities, to live outdoors for a weekend.

But what happens when you don't have the money, time or a combination of the two in order to go out and buy camping gear? And then, what if you decide you don't even like camping?

This conundrum could be solved by the Sharing Depot, a new borrow-anything library coming to Toronto. Called a "library of things," it works like any other library, but only for other items like board games, sports equipment, party supplies, children's toys — there is no limit, according to Lawrence Alvarez, one of the founders of the group behind the initiative.

"Say you need to go on a vacation," he told Metro Morning. "You don't need to own tents, you just need to access them."

The group that started the Toronto Tool Library is now fundraising to open a "Library of Things". Guest host Nil Köksal spoke with Lawrence Alvarez, he is one of the co-founders of Sharing Depot.

The library of things is now in the fundraising stage. But Alvarez and his partners already know a little something about libraries. They started the Toronto Tool Library, a group that shares tools among its members.

"When you think about why people need tools, really they just need to do a small job," he said. That same concept, where you don't need to own these tools but you need to access them for a period of time, can extend to many other things, he said.

Alvarez said the Sharing Depot is fuelled by three ideas:

  1. Money: What Alvarez calls "the dollar and cents portion," where you don't need to buy new things all the time and can save money.
  2. Empowerment: People who cannot complete tasks because they don't have the physical tools can now have access to them. "You're able to do so many more things because you don't have the economic barrier blocking you," said Alvarez.
  3. Universalism: This has an environmental slant. "This earth is not a bottomless pit of resources," said Alvarez. "We cannot just take out of it, and convert into these things we hardly use. It does not respect this wonderful miracle on which we all live."

The library of things will have a membership that costs between $50 and $100 per year. Then, once you have a membership it becomes like a retail store — you look for the item you need, and then you check it out of the library for a week or so.

While some people won't necessarily get in line to share hockey equipment, the group behind the Sharing Depot hopes that one day that idea won't seem unusual at all.

"The global imperative to share is so compelling," said Alvarez.

The library is about 70 per cent funded. It hopes to open its first location on The Danforth at the end of April. More information can be found here.


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