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Access over ownership: case studies of libraries of things.

Baden, Denise; Peattie, Ken; Oke, Adekunle


Denise Baden

Ken Peattie

Adekunle Oke


Over the last decade there has been increasing interest in the concept of the sharing economy, which replaces the focus on individual ownership with a focus on access to goods and services through borrowing, hiring or sharing. This study investigates the efficacy of extending the library concept to include more items, such as those that are used infrequently. The aim is to explore how Libraries of Things (LoTs) operate and the potential to broaden their appeal, reach and sustainability. This study adopts a multiple case study method to provide a snapshot of six LoTs in the UK. Findings indicate that all LoTs shared common environmental and social values, with the most prevalent values being to use the library concept to reduce resource use and waste and to enable more equitable access to goods. All relied on volunteers and public support, in the form of free or discounted space and none were yet economically self-sufficient. This poses important questions about the future for LoTs and whether they could or even should, transition towards the mainstream to make a more substantive contribution to creating a more socially equitable and environmentally sustainable economy.


BADEN, D., PEATTIE, K. and OKE, A. 2020. Access over ownership: case studies of libraries of things. Sustainability [online], 12(17), article ID 7180. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 31, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 2, 2020
Publication Date Sep 1, 2020
Deposit Date Sep 3, 2020
Publicly Available Date Sep 3, 2020
Journal Sustainability
Electronic ISSN 2071-1050
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 17
Article Number 7180
Keywords Access-based consumption; Circular economy; Collaborative consumption; Library of things; Product service systems; Sharing economy; Sustainable business models
Public URL


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