Need a glue gun? How about champagne flutes for a party? Find it at The Sydney Library of Things.

If you’re looking for a place to borrow some handy items without having to purchase and store them, The Sydney Library of Things (TSLoT) has it all. It’s a not-for-profit service in Waverton which has the slogan ‘Why buy when you can borrow?’

The library, which officially opened in November 2021, was established by Carol Skyring, Bridget Kennedy and Jacky Barker with the support of North Sydney Council, which provides the space free of charge. It’s located at the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability in Waverton.

Carol Skyring, who is also president of the library, lives as self-sufficiently as possible in an apartment, growing her own vegetables in a local community garden. She has worked in education all her life, most recently as an academic and researcher, and has a Diploma of Sustainable Living.

Carol, originally from Queensland, now lives in Ryde and says she was ‘born and raised on the land’. She went back to Queensland for a few years in 2013 and lived as sustainably as she could.

“It started my own journey to be more mindful of the way I lived and the things I did,” Carol tells North Shore Living. “I grew all my fruit and veggies organically. I investigated how to make everything you could make.

“I’d always made yoghurt, but I got into cheese making. I still make all of these things myself; my deodorant, face cream, cleaning products, all of those sorts of things.”

Living sustainably is in Carol’s blood. “I grew up on a dairy farm. My grandmother always had veggies, chooks and fruit trees,” Carol says. “So for me, it wasn’t a difficult leap. It was all genetically there. But I learned a lot more and certainly got into permaculture and still remain a ‘permian’ today.”

On her return to Sydney, Carol joined forces with Bridget and Jacky to get the TSLoT going. Once they got council support, they needed to stock the library with items and recruit volunteers.

“It didn’t take long to have a dozen passionate volunteers who were prepared to take on different roles at the library.” The library now has about 24 volunteers, all with different roles. There are 281 items available for borrowing by the 118 active members, and they also take donations of quality items.

“COVID-19 played into our hands because people had a lot of time at home to clear out their sheds and cupboards and were happy to donate these to such a great initiative,” she adds.

“Our borrowers like that (the library) is environmentally friendly, saves them money and that they are not using disposable items. They also love our friendly volunteers.”

The library is open from 9am to 12pm every Saturday and borrowing is easy.

“Everything is done online – you browse items available, reserve them and pick them up on a Saturday morning,” Carol explains.

So, what do people borrow most? “At the moment it’s the hedge trimmer, food dehydrator, water pressure washer, gazebo, bunting, ice cream maker, electric sander and bread maker,” says Carol. “And we can tell when someone’s having a party as they borrow the gazebo, the bunting, the trestle table.”

Carol says they also run workshops using items from the library. “For example, we’ve run bread-making workshops using the bread maker,” she says. “And dehydration workshops using the (food) dehydrator.”

Anyone aged over 18 can join for an annual fee of $85, six-month fee of $50 or three-month fee of $30, with lower concessions available. You only pay for membership and not for borrowing items.

As TSLoT has been so successful, will it be expanding? “We are in discussions about opening in three more local government areas,” Carol says.

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