This week, we celebrated the launch of Library of Things at Patch in Twickenham.

Library of Things (LoT) is a publicly accessible library of useful objects that everyone can affordably borrow, from drills to sewing machines. The opening of LoT reflects our ambition to help nurture more sustainable local communities and promote the circular economy.

This idea was first brought to us by Alexis Liming, a local resident, LoT CFO, and now, a Patch member. We’re always incredibly excited to partner with ‘Community Builders’ like Alexis to help make fantastic things happen at Patch. So we wanted to tell you how we collaborated to make it happen and bring our new library to Twickenham.

Why buy when you can borrow? Source: Library of Things

Better for People and Planet

Founded by social entrepreneurs Emma Shaw, Bex Trevalyan and Sophia Wyatt, LoT is a network of libraries where people can affordably rent items like drills, sound systems, and carpet cleaners. The library also promotes skills like DIY and repair and brings together local groups motivated to work together for a more sustainable future.

LoT encourages borrowing rather than buying, which comes with a host of environmental, economic and social benefits. Prices start at just £1.50 a day, making the average price of hiring an item less than 10% of the retail price, whilst many users celebrate the value of meeting other local makers, learning new skills and connecting with neighbours and friends over new projects.

Perhaps most apparent is the value to our planet, with borrowing helping to foster the circular economy and reduce excessive consumption and electrical waste. So far, across the LoT network, borrowers have saved over 210 tonnes of e-waste from landfills, prevented 650 tonnes of carbon emissions, and collectively saved ‘borrowers’ £4.5 million by choosing to renting over buying. These are big numbers, but there are also lots of brilliant personal stories such as the borrower who rented a metal detector to find their lost wedding ring.

Meet Heather Petsopoulos, the ‘Thing Technician’ at Library of Things

Library of Things at Patch

We've been closely collaborating with the LoT team to create a unique design for our own library. The plywood lockers containing the items snugly fit into the corner of Patch’s ground floor and are anchored by a bespoke oak table designed by furniture designer Dean Connell, along with a set of colourful stools by Martino Gamper. This setup forms a 'library corner,' where workshops, skill-sharing sessions, and pop-up market stalls can be held.

We even have our very own librarian or 'Thing Technician,' Heather Petsopoulos. Heather will be visiting Patch in Twickenham twice a week to take care of our 'things', ensuring they are in perfect condition for all borrowers. This means that Heather, who is also an expert furniture restorer, will often be on hand to assist with any DIY questions borrowers may have!

Renting is simple, you book items through the LoT website here (starting from £1.50 a day) and borrowers automatically receive a pick-up code. You can then pop into Patch during our opening hours (currently 08:30-17:30 on Mon-Fri,  09:30-15:00 on Sat and 10:00-15:00 on Sun) to retrieve your item from the lockers. LoT is visible from our front entrance on York Street and next to our public cafe, the newly opened Django's. It’s an open invitation to everyone in the community to come in and see what Patch can offer to you.

Laura, Thread Club Founder, teaching Freddie Fforde to sew in Patch Academy

The Power of Local Partnership

This week, we gathered to celebrate the library launch. In addition to the LoT team, there have been numerous local partners who have made this initiative possible.

First and foremost, The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames who have funded this initiative. Their collaborative support has been greatly appreciated, especially in connecting us with local interest groups and helping spread the word. 

Following a warm welcome from Aaron Gough, Director of Patch in Twickenham, and an introduction to LoT’s mission from Alexis, we also had some fantastic local groups running drop-in workshops and showcases throughout the party. 

It was a pleasure to meet the team behind Repair Cafe, who are based round the corner from us at St. Margaret’s Church. They host a monthly ‘market’ where people drop-in and they do their best to fix their objects free of charge. From antique clocks to electric scooters, they have helped over 1,000 people repair their objects. They are a team of volunteers driven by a love of problem-solving, sustainability, and a desire to bring the community together.

Colin and Tabitha from the Twickenham Repair Cafe

We also caught up with Laura Boxall, Founder of Thread Club, who was running a pop-up sewing workshop where you could learn to sew with a machine borrowed from our library. People sewed small swatches with illustrations of Patch in Twickenham; from lightbulbs (taken from motifs on our building’s facade) to the art deco profile of the building itself.

Laura is one of a growing community of creatives and makers who are using Patch as a host space for her textile and fashion workshops. Hosted in Patch Academy, our flexible events studio, these courses are a fantastic introduction to anyone wanting to learn more about sewing.

Thanu and Jack, from brand and product studio Fawn Studio at the LoT launch

Calling all ‘Community Builders’ 

It's wonderful to see so many people coming together to help make great things happen in their local communities. For us at Patch, this is deeply meaningful as it aligns so closely with our mission. Our aim is to provide a platform for the people, organisations, and businesses that make our neighbourhoods distinctive and special. The many 'Community Builders' involved in first building and now bringing to life LoT in Twickenham exemplify all these values.

So, we are very proud to announce that Library of Things at Patch is officially open. We invite everyone to visit and to bring their practical needs and DIY dreams - from borrowing the carpet cleaner for a deep spring clean to the projector and pop-up screen to host a community cinema screening.

And if you are inspired to host a workshop, roundtable, or event that connects to themes of sustainability, circular economy and civic agency do get in touch - you bring the ideas, and we'll provide the space!

Find our more about Library of Things here.

Live demos from the LoT team