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Borrowing is the new buying

Borrowing is the new buying

Photographer:Fotograaf: Observant

MAASTRICHT. “See, this is a perfect example.” Elisa Etrary, second-year student of European Studies, picks up a crème brûlée burner. “Unless you make crème brûlée every Sunday, you’ll only need it once or twice a year.” So why spend money on it? This is the idea behind the Library of Things: reduce consumerism by lending you the things you only need every now and then.

The Library of Things was founded by UCM student Sarah Fitterer last year, and is being continued by a group of student volunteers while she’s on exchange. Recently, the library moved from its temporary premises to an anti-squat location at the Bourgognestraat 32. “We just painted the walls”, says Elisa Philibert, also a second-year European Studies student, gesturing at slogans like ‘borrowing is the new buying’. Here, people can browse the collection or join one of the activities they are hoping to organise. “To promote the library, but also to show people how to use the things we have. We could have a workshop on how to use a drill or have people over to play a board game so potential borrowers know how to play it.”

The concept is based on donation. “People donate stuff they don’t need anymore, money so we can buy things people are asking for, or time so we can expand our opening hours”, says Etrary. “Libraries of Things in other cities often get money from the municipality as well, but before we ask for that, we want to first build up a community of not just students but also Maastricht citizens.”

The collection is already quite broad – from a waffle maker to bike-repair kits – but there is still a wish list. “We’d like a tent and a sewing machine. Some party decorations would also be cool – light strings and so on.”

How long you can borrow something for depends on your needs and the product. “An iron you might only need for three hours, a backpack for two weeks”, says Etrary. “We’re still small enough to adapt the lending agreement to every borrower.” Within reason, that is: “If you need a backpack for three months, maybe you should buy your own.”


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