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Essex Library of Things

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Essex Library of Things? 

It consists of items of household equipment which are lent to Essex Library Services customers. Items stocked include tools for home repairs and decorating, home appliances, camping and sports equipment, musical instruments and gardening tools. Our stock will grow over time depending on popularity and availability of items. If customers haven’t found the item they were after, please ask them to complete a stock suggestions form and visit the catalogue again in a few weeks. 


Who is eligible to use the Essex Library of Things? 

Any adult with an Essex library card. 


How does a customer obtain an item? 

All items are listed on the catalogue. Enter the name of the item in the search box, or select “Essex Library of Things” under Format Type in Advanced Search. Customers are notified in the usual way when items are ready to collect. 


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. If the customer selects another library or an item that is too heavy for the mobile library, this will be highlighted in the daily exception report and the LSU team will make contact to explain and arrange an alternative pick up location. 


What is the loan period? 

One week for the static libraries, three weeks for the mobile libraries. As with books, items borrowed from static libraries are renewable 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. 


Who has funded this project? 

The Essex Library of Things is part of BLUEPRINT to a Circular Economy, which aims to help local authorities move to a circular economy, encourage the efficient use of resources when manufacturing products and promotes the re-use, repair, refurbishment and recycling of products for as long as possible with minimal waste. It is largely funded by the European Regional Development Fund together with municipal and academic project partners. 


When does the pilot phase come to an end? 

28 February 2022. 



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

The 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 confirmation email before you can request the item at your chosen library. This is because, after an item is returned from the previous borrower, it needs to be quarantined for 72 hours and, if electric, 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 (LMS) 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. 


Collecting and returning 

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.  


I am disabled/ill/self-isolating and cannot collect my item. Can someone else collect for me?  

If you cannot collect your item, you can delegate another adult to collect on your behalf. They will need to have your library card and sign the Terms and Conditions of loan/use. 


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).  


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 signing the Equipment Hire Agreement you 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.      


Is it safe to share items? Will they be sanitised?  

Every item will be quarantined for 72 hours after it’s been returned to the library. This is the same process that is used for books. 


Electrical items will also be PAT tested before every loan.  


As part of the Terms and Conditions of borrowing, we ask you to clean items before returning them. 


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

For items made of multiple parts, there will be a check list that we ask you to sign upon collection of the item. The same list will be checked by staff when 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 let us know as soon as possible (and within five working days from borrowing) by emailing Please refer to section 8.1 of the Terms and Conditions.  


Stock gaps and donations 

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

Use this form. 


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  



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. 


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