Thanks to a rise in sharing economy models over the last decade, citizens’ approach to urban services has been transformed through the creation and implementation of an abundance of innovative initiatives.

Based also on the circular economy model, which focuses on utilising resources for the longest time possible to extract maximum value and reduce waste, the Library of Things concept lowers the cost of living and improves residents’ quality of life, helping to create a thriving community.

What is the Library of Things and how does it work?

The Library of Things is a physical space where you can rent for free or exchange specific objects and equipment that does not require daily use: from power drills and ladders to small appliances and board games. Citizens can also donate items rarely used and make them available for the wider community to borrow.

The innovative initiative first spread to London, Toronto and Berlin, and has been adopted within Planet Smart City’s affordable housing projects across the world. Not only does the Library of Things save residents money, but it also encourages citizens to reduce, reuse, and recycle objects. With the support of the Planet App, the smart solution has become incredibly popular among our residents in Italy and Brazil.

Quartiere Giardino, Milan, Italy

In June 2019, the Library of Things was implemented at Quartiere Giardino, a residential complex in the Southwest of Milan, Italy. The common space consists of two rooms equipped with shelves, workbenches and tool holders, with around 50 tools available for residents and the surrounding community to borrow via the Planet App.

Thanks to the ‘Equipment’ function on the app, users can browse through a list of available items, read their descriptions, check availability, and reserve items they need. In the past 12 months, 720 people have engaged with Quartiere Giardino’s Library of Things via the Planet App. Among the objects borrowed most often were soccer uniforms and home toolkits.

Smart City Laguna, Brazil

At Smart City Laguna, the first affordable smart city in the world, the Library of Things has been in full function since November 2019. The space is open to the public every day, from 8am to 5pm. Citizens can search through the extensive list of items, including ladders, pliers, drills, screwdrivers and hammers.

The most popular items available are the electric screwdriver, metric tape, and spanner. Objects can be kept for up to 15 days before being returned in perfect condition, ready for their next use.

Empowering people to borrow rather than buy everyday items, the Library of Things is an innovative solution that offers practical items to people from all walks of life – but especially those with limited budgets. Following the successful implementation of the scheme in Brazil and Italy, Planet intends to introduce the initiative into our future smart projects to reduce wastage, encourage sustainable behaviours, and ultimately provide the community with added value.