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Essex Library of Things frequently asked questions

The Essex Library of Things logo. Green tent, yellow hammer and a blue blender.

Monday 26 July 2021

About the Essex Library of Things

Who is eligible to use the Essex Library of Things?

Any member of Essex County Council Libraries aged 18 years old or older.

How do I see what’s available?

There’s a list of available items on the Love Essex page.

Where can items be collected from and returned to?

Chelmsford Library, Clacton Library, Great Parndon Library, Witham Library, Laindon Library and the mobile libraries. Certain larger items cannot be borrowed from a mobile library.

What is the loan period?

One week for the static libraries, three weeks for the mobile libraries. As with books, you can renew items from static libraries up to six times provided they are not reserved. Items borrowed from mobile libraries are not renewable.

What is the charge?

There is no charge for borrowing or reserving items during the pilot phase. We will review whether to introduce charges if the Essex Library of Things continues beyond the pilot stage.

When does the pilot phase come to an end?

28 February 2022.

Reserving items

How do I obtain an item?

Use the list of available items on the Love Essex page and select the item you require, then click through to the catalogue to make your reservation. Customers are notified in the usual way when items are ready to collect.

How can I reserve an item if I don’t have access to a computer or the internet?

The list of available items and library catalogue can also be accessed via smartphone or tablet.
All library members can book a computer to use at any Essex library and can ask library staff for support.

How long will it take my reservation to be delivered to my pick-up point?

We estimate this will be up to a week, however this timescale cannot be guaranteed. You will need to receive a notification before you can request the item at your chosen library.

This is because, after an item is returned from the previous borrower, if electric, it needs to be PAT tested before it can be loaned again.

If you need an item for a specific date, shortly after your reservation, you may have to make alternative plans.

Why can’t I reserve an item for collection at the Essex library of my choice?

Only Chelmsford Library, Clacton Library, Great Parndon Library, Witham Library, Laindon Library and the mobile libraries have so far been assessed as being capable of acting as collection points for the Essex Library of Things. We hope to add more locations as the project develops.

When I reserved an Essex Library of Things item, the system allowed me to specify a collection point other than the ones you’ve designated. Why?

For technical reasons, the library management system allows any location to be specified as a collection point. However, customers should only select one of the designated collection points for the Essex Library of Things. These are currently Chelmsford Library, Clacton Library, Great Parndon Library, Witham Library, Laindon Library and the mobile libraries. It is not possible to collect from, or return to, any other locations.

I reserved an item some time ago but haven’t been notified that it’s ready for collection. Why not?

Please check that your contact details are up to date on your record. The item may be in use by another customer or may be in transit or quarantine. Electrical items also have to be PAT tested. Library staff will be able to advise you of your position in the queue.

Collecting and returning items

Is there a limit to the number of items I can borrow?

Yes; the total number of items borrowed (including books, DVDs, Library of Things items) cannot exceed 25 at any one time.

If I borrow a heavy item, will library staff help me take it to/from my car?

Unfortunately, library staff cannot help with moving items. The catalogue shows how much each item weighs; please make sure you can carry it or bring someone with you to help. You may be asked to go into the library stock room (escorted by staff) to collect your item.

Do I need to show my library card to collect my item?

You need to show either your library card or library app. For items that are marked as "only suitable for over 18", ID is required for collection.

What can I do if I am unable to collect my item. Can someone else collect for me?

If you cannot collect your item, you can delegate another adult over 18 to collect on your behalf. By booking this item you have agreed to the Essex Library of Things equipment hire agreement. The person collecting the item on your behalf will need to have your library card. 

I have forgotten to collect my item/I could not collect my item immediately. How long will it be kept for me? Will I receive a reminder?

Customers have up to 10 days to collect reserved items. However, if someone else has placed a reservation on the item, your booking will expire after seven days. There will normally be only one notification.

I don’t need my item for the whole week, can I return it sooner?

Yes, you can. Please check opening days and times for your nearest library drop-off point (Chelmsford Library, Clacton Library, Great Parndon Library, Witham Library, Laindon Library or the mobile libraries).

Having collected my item from one library, can I return it to another?

Yes, you can, but the return library must also be one of the designated collection points (Chelmsford Library, Clacton Library, Great Parndon Library, Witham Library, Laindon Library and the mobile libraries).

Do you intend to add more pickup / drop-off locations? If so, when?

We hope to add more locations as the project develops. We are currently assessing whether other libraries have the capacity to serve as collection points.

What will happen if I don’t (or another customer doesn’t) return an item?

By proceeding to reserve an item from the Library of Things, you agree to the Equipment Hire Agreement of the Library of Things and agree to return items at or before the time that their loan period (including any renewals) has expired. Should this not happen, the Library Service reserves the right to recover the item and levy any costs connected with its recovery. We also reserve the right to prevent you making further use of the Library Service to borrow items (including books, DVDs etc.)

Item use and breakages

Will there be instructions on how to use an item? Will the library staff train me?

Every item will be accompanied by instructions if these exist. Instructions will also be available to view on the online catalogue. Library staff will not be able to provide training. Please make sure you have familiarised yourself with how an item works before using it and are fully aware of the risks connected with using tools.

Will protective equipment be provided to use tools?

Protective equipment will not be provided. Please ensure you have suitable protective equipment for the items you borrow.

Will batteries be provided for the items which need them?

It will be the customer’s responsibility to supply the batteries needed for the item they are borrowing. These will have to be removed before the item is returned to the library. As part of the Essex Library of Things Equipment Hire Agreement, we ask you to clean items befor ereturning them.

What happens if something is missing from the item I have borrowed?

For items made of multiple parts, there will be a checklist which will be checked by staff each time the item is returned. This is to ensure that no parts are missing.

The item I borrowed has stopped working/ is broken. What should I do?

Please return the item as soon as possible (and within five working days from borrowing) to your chosen library from the above list. Please refer to the Essex Library of Things Equipment Hire Agreement.

Stock gaps and donations

How can I suggest / request other items for the Library of Things?

Complete this form to suggest or request new items to be added to the Essex Library of Things.

Can I donate an item to your stock?

We are not currently accepting donations.

We are grateful that residents would like to contribute to this new project, however we are currently only able to stock brand-new items in their original package. This is to ensure health and safety standards and reduce the risk of breakages.

If you have items you don’t need anymore, please see sharing and reuse options at loveessex.org

Financials

How have you funded purchase of the Library of Things items? Have you used book fund money?

The Essex Library of Things is part of BLUEPRINT to a Circular Economy, funded by the European Regional Development Fund together with municipal and academic project partners. No book fund money has been used.

Are you proposing to introduce charges, and if so, how much?

For the initial phase of the project, items are free to borrow and to reserve. We will review whether to introduce charges if the Essex Library of Things continues beyond the pilot stage.

I have a question that does not appear on this list.

Please contact Essex Library Service and they will be happy to help. 

Find out more about the Essex library of things

Essex Library of Things homepage

Essex Library of Things equipment hire agreement

BLUEPRINT website