When you think of a library, books are probably what come to mind — but what about kitchenware?
The image dates back to at least 2015, and the most recent upload to the r/Anticonsumption forum appears to be yet another moment of online interest for a wall of muffin tins, cookie sheets, and more.
Of course, it’s not the content of the shelf that keeps grabbing interest, but where it is. People tend to associate a library with knowledge, written entertainment, study halls, and the occasional public event.
Not only are some libraries offering services like cookware rental, but many have also been offering a host of other items for checkout for many years, including household tools, toys, and even energy audit kits to help community members save on bills.
Public goods like these have several benefits to both their local neighborhoods and to the planet. Collectively sharing reusable resources (like tools and books) means there’s less unnecessary spending on goods and a chance for families to have access to basic necessities that they may not be able to reliably afford otherwise.
There are also environmental benefits. When people share goods, there is less market demand to produce more products, thereby saving energy by reducing manufacturing. That also means less packaging in landfills, too.
Perhaps just as importantly, they offer creative inspiration for what could be. There is a reason this image keeps popping up online — it redefines what people can expect from their local governments, and such perspective shifts can inspire even more helpful changes in other areas of our world.
Perhaps it’s time to evolve our idea of libraries as a place to find other useful, fun, and even necessary items for anyone in need of them.
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