a library of things & repair café
The Library of Things Exhibit
The Library of Things Exhibit
Library of Things Residency
The aim of the artwork is to inspire the community to think about the role of objects in our lives and how we obtain and care for them. It was inspired by the playful exploration of what constitute suitably precious artefacts, appropriate for display in a gallery space, and expanding it to encompass a system and a community. This resonates with one of the biggest challenges we face around sustainability, which is the difficulty in comprehending that everything, from the material objects surrounding us, to us as individuals, are part of a larger system.
Our artwork is a micro-Library of Things, featuring items from the Library itself, chosen to inspire. To exhibit the system, we will run the Library of Things from this space during the exhibition in defined time slots so it becomes a ‘living system’, allowing visitors to interact with the exhibit and the community of librarians. We will run a Repair Café, where volunteers work with owners of broken items to try to fix them, as an event during the exhibition.
The Library of Things is itself such a powerful idea – the Library evoking a shared community resource that allows borrowers to take an object away for a period of time and use it in this slightly transformative way. Whether something very everyday like putting up some shelves or experimenting with a new skill or creating a celebration with others in a different way, these borrowed objects enable, empower and inspire. The items in the Library therefore have this dual purpose – primarily to save waste, but also to enable borrowers to do things they might not have been able to do otherwise, to add richness of experience and fun, while inspiring us to think about our relationship to the ‘things’ we use.
about the artist
Hermeet GILL is interested in ideas, processes, systems and data and how these are combined, translated and communicated in the context of human stories and place. Her multidisciplinary practice spans design, environmental art, letterpress, paper engineering, mapmaking, photography and writing, and is characterised by experimentation and combination.
Hermeet is currently working with the University of Oxford to create an artwork based on the research of an ecology researcher working at the university's woodland at Wytham Woods. Funded by the university and the British Ecological Society, this project has a strong sustainability and community theme, and seeks to tell the story of a specific natural environment and the research, processes and people who care for it. (More detail can be found here:
She has also recently completed an award-winning entry to a map making competition organised by Oxford City Council. Here, the brief was to create a map to tell the story of Oxford by creating an illustrated map featuring favourite landmarks and moments in time. Around that time, a cyclist had tragically died on the streets in Oxford, while many local activists had been asking local councils to make the city safer for cyclists and pedestrians for many months, and also asking for improvements in air quality and congestion. Given this context, she noted that the template map showed only car routes, further demonstrating how cars, rather than active transport, is very much the default and created a map to gently draw attention to these issues.
Hermeet Gill: hermeetgill.com
about the group
SHARE Oxford aims to reduce waste and excess consumption through facilitating and encouraging sharing in the community. On the practical level this means:
having and loaning out useful items (‘Things’) at affordable rates, thereby helping people to buy less, store less, have access to more, and waste less; and
running regular Repair Cafés to encourage and enable people to extend the working life of objects they own and use
However, we have a wider vision, that is to change individuals’ relationship with how they consume just about everything. Ultimately, we seek to challenge people’s perceptions of ownership and our relationship to the Earth’s resources, collaborate with like-minded people and groups, to inspire others to undertake similar initiatives, and to be part of a progression towards a healthier economy and society.
We’ll know we’re achieving this when the majority of people think “how can I share?” before buying or disposing of anything.
SHARE Oxford was formed out of an earlier initiative, the Oxford Circular Collective, which had a similar aim of reducing waste through facilitating the transfer of things from those who didn’t need them to others who would find them useful. In early 2018, SHARE Oxford was formed and launched the Library of Things in February 2019 at Makespace Oxford in Jericho, and has hosted regular Repair Cafés.
We are part of a UK-wide network of Libraries of Things and Tool Libraries, and are starting to ‘twin’ with similar initiatives in other countries. It is exciting to be in on what is a growing international movement.