Asikkala library puts into circulation tools to better serve the needs of residents while adapting citizens to the sharing economy in rural communities.
The good practice promotes cooperation and low-carbon practices as it experiments on new operating models for municipal libraries, implementing sharing and service economy in rural regions. The service pilots in rural Päijät-Häme and conveys information and possibilities about sharing economy. The stakeholders of the project are the municipality of Asikkala and the communal library of Asikkala, while citizens act as beneficiaries.
The ideation started as residents of Asikkala municipality were interested in lending tools within the community, and with each other. In June 2020, a sharing library section was added to the communal library of Asikkala, in the Päijät-Häme region. Based on the resident's wishes, Maallemuuttajat 2030 project, funded by European agricultural fund for rural development (EAFRD), and managed by LAB University of Applied Sciences, collected citizens donations in the early spring of 2020. The items are freely available to all residents with a library card, following and respecting the Asikkala library's lending rules. Residents can select between 20 products and borrow them for two weeks at a time, including lending items such as a sewing machine, seamer, cordless drill, steam cleaner, plant dryer, tent, backpack, various board games, as well as kitchen utensils.
The tools and products of the sharing library are all donated from citizens. The Maallemuuttajat 2030 project paid for the shelf and storing solutions for the library. It took about 3-4 working months for one person to set up the sharing library section, and about one week from the library staff.
Evidence of success
The sharing economy is very natural for the countryside. The countryside has a long tradition of helping and borrowing goods. Sharing economy can increase vitality and quality of life in areas, which keep rural areas populated. Some of the items are in continuous use as the steam cleaner with a growing waiting list. In the first three months, there were 45 lends from the sharing library. Proving measurable results of a successful good practice.
Difficulties in upkeeping the sharing library include the maintenance of the product. The sharing library has agreements with local service shops, but the problem is to find out when the items, for example, seamer, needs upkeep.
Potential for learning or transfer
Potential obstacles to transformation are differences between the communal libraries and possible lack of partners to do the maintenance. All products have compensation prices that the customer pays if the product is intentionally misused or broken. Repairing should have a high priority in the planning and budgeting of the practice as repair and reuse are an essential part of the sharing library.
Other obstacles to the practice are the donated items. Some donations are decades old. However, home appliances made in the 1980s have survived for 40 years. Will products from current production even survive five years of use?
The practice is easily adaptable; however, highly dependable on the conditions of the donated tools and products. This service's key success factors were hearing the residents' wishes and making the service easy or even automatic for the communal library to upkeep.