Tips for Setting up a Neighborhood Library

Could your community benefit from having a library? IKO Community Management has tips for this community service. It can be easier than you think. Many of us have useful how-to-books, children’s books, history books, cook books, magazines, etc. that we just don’t want to throw out. Consider the lending library concept. A good “green” way to recycle and enhance other’s lives.

  • Talk to your HOA to discuss the possibilities. There are a few things to consider to get the ball rolling. Where will you have our library so that all may access it? How will you gather books? Should you only start with a certain type of reading materials? These and many other questions will need answers first.
  • Where will you set up your library? Your neighborhood may have a community center that just might have an unused corner to start your new adventure. If not, can a small shed type building be placed in the neighborhood that can be accessed by all? One woman in Connecticut built her own oversized mailbox from a recycled cabinet and other supplies and posted it in her front lawn. Those that were interested can either borrow or donate a book and there are no costs and no membership cards and can keep the book as long as needed. Communicate with your HOA to find out any rules and regulations.
  • If your space is limited, decide what types of reading materials you will want to have in your library. Will you have a children’s section? Children’s books are very popular especially for stay at home mom’s or babysitters. Your home may be cluttered with these types of books and it soon becomes hard to store all of them. Also, as children grow, their reading materials change. This could be a good way to recycle those easy readers. Exchanging them in a free library in your neighborhood is a great idea to save money on buying books.
  • Health and fitness, cooking, and do it yourself magazines are fun reading for everyone. Most of these magazines end up in the recycle bin when done reading. Why not share these as well. Weekend homeowner projects, dinner parties, and sprucing up your exercise routines are all welcomed reads. Another good magazine to have in your library is National Geographic. Not only great for those school projects, but everyone can enjoy learning new things from around the world.

These are just a few reading selections. Take the time to see what other ideas your community might have to share. This will open a whole new world to most that may have never thought to try a project, try a new craft or cooking idea, educate themselves on a new subject, or simply read for a quiet summer night.

Taking your lending library a step further could be to add actual tools, equipment, service, or skill. Many neighbors would be happy to share their knowledge, tools, and services to others and be able to receive those items in return. It is very possible most neighbors would be very receptive of the sharing idea right now with the economy the way it is. Garages become storage units for things we may only need to use once. Why not share resources to save money.

The concept of community lending is a great way to live a greener lifestyle and helps all who are watching their pennies. With use of the internet communities are connected through e-blasts and e-newsletters every week. This could be a great resource for your lending library. The idea is simple: people in the community pool together items they own and would want to share with everyone. A list is compiled along with emails and/or phone numbers and the skill/service and or tool/equipment they would be willing to share. This is combined and shared with all that want to be a part of the lending library. Neighbors can contact each other to make arrangements on their own for they need.

As an example, you may have a cordless drill, extension ladder, electric bowl mixer, or folding tables that you don’t use very often. Your neighbor might have a lawn fertilizer, table saw, or blow-up mattresses for that extra company coming to town. All these items could be pooled together for everyone to use. And that is how your lending library begins!

Set up lending guide lines or a code of ethics for everyone to follow. For instance, tools must be returned cleaned and unbroken. If borrowing table cloths, clothing, etc. it must come back washed and ironed if needed. Damages are the responsibility of the borrower and the item must be replaced or compensated if necessary.


Community lending libraries have many benefits:

  • Saves money. This is the best benefit to setting up a community library. No need to run out and buy that shop vac for that accidental flooding basement, or that miter saw you need to use to finish hanging the crown-molding in your dining room. These items could be borrowed for free!
  • Cuts consumption. Instead of buying something and using it once or for a short time and then throwing it away in the landfill, you can now simply borrow it from someone else. Just think of all that extra room you will have in your storage areas not to mention the room left at the dump.
  • Nurtures sense of community. Helping each other out in your neighborhood gives everyone a sense of connection and togetherness. It is a win-win for all.


The possibilities are endless. Don’t think you have anything to offer? Have a look at this list.


  • Children’s toys and games
  • Infant supplies (cribs, bottles, etc.)
  • Auto-working tools
  • Maternity clothing
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Home-improvement tools
  • DVDs
  • Video games
  • Specialized books
  • Seasonal supplies (beach chairs, snow skis)
  • Business clothing
  • CDs
  • Computer supplies and accessories
  • Fine china for special occasions
  • Party supplies

Skills can be a valuable item in your community's library. Maybe you can sew, crochet, or other home craft experience. How about fixing computers? Perhaps you know how to fix cars, paint, or repair upholstery. Everyone has a hidden talent and what great knowledge to share with someone else. Teaching someone something new will give you great satisfaction and passing on your knowledge is a wonderful lending idea.

Will you have just books or go all out on a lending library? It's up to your community! IKO Community Management reminds you to begin with your HOA to find out information on how a lending library might benefit your community.

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