A Sustainable Library of Things

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What started as an idea from a neighbourhood resident has become one of Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region’s flagship programs.

The KW Library of Things has brought a community together, created employment opportunities for people facing barriers, and become a model for sustainability in Waterloo Region.

“It is important for us that our work supports our future, and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals have really broadened our understanding of that. We hope that being given the opportunity to share the various ways we are working towards these goals encourages others to consider how they can also target their amazing work towards global and sustainable good.”

– Kim Sproul, Community Development Coordinator

The KW Library of Things, which opened in 2018, is a place where people can borrow infrequently used items such as tools, garden equipment, kitchen appliances or camping gear—saving money and the environment while supporting our community.

Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region’s Community Development Coordinator, Kim Sproul, outlined the rationale for this program perfectly. “Not every person needs to own a drill if that drill is available for use by multiple people. One person may use a drill for 7 minutes in its lifetime. Outside of that, it sits, unused, on a shelf, until it eventually makes its way to the landfill.”

For $40 a year, members of the KW Library of Things can borrow up to 10 items at a time and attend workshops hosted by other members and volunteers. The workshops aim to enable community members to take on projects by learning new skills.

“At the workshops, community members can participate in learning activities at their comfort level, gradually become familiar with how to use equipment safely and then begin to tackle projects with their new skills,” says Murray Zink, who teaches the All Saws Saturday workshop.

For Murray, sharing his skills is part of a greater community-building approach. “I want to contribute in a way so projects that a community member once considered not possible become possible.”

The KW Library of Things is also breaking barriers for the people it will employ to help run it. The organization is currently creating positions to hire individuals who have faced barriers to employment,offering flexible working hours and liveable wages.

The library has not only supported Wellbeing Waterloo Region’s key priority area of "Social Inclusion," as well as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of "No Poverty," "Decent Work and Economic Growth," and "Responsible Consumption and Production"; it has used them as principles to guide how they can continue to grow and inspire others in the process.

Thanks to investments from Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, the KW Library of Things has been able to provide additional work stations, increase its space to store items, and add items to its inventory. This has enabled the library to increase its membership and offer supports and services to the community that are being updated and improved on a regular basis.

The KW Library of Things is located at 91 Moore Ave in Kitchener. To learn more about how to donate to the library or become a member, visit http://kwlot.ca.


Click here to download and read the KWCF's 2018 Annual Report.

KWCFGrant Stories