A trailblazing new project helping to tackle the cost-of-living crisis will see public libraries in Edinburgh, Forfar, Kilbirnie and Orkney create ‘Lend and Mend Hubs’, as the initiative expands across Scotland.

Managed by the Scottish Library and Information Council, the new library hubs will give communities free access to repair, reuse, rent and upcycle everyday items, to help keep items in use for longer, rather than them being thrown away.

The libraries will join five other services in Aberdeen, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Perth and South Ayrshire in developing the country’s first circular community hubs, leading the way in developing a long-term model for circular economy activities (the model of production and consumption aimed at eliminating waste and pollution, circulating products and materials and regenerating nature).

John Lewis Circular Fund

Funded by The John Lewis Partnership’s £1m Circular Future Fund, nine public library partners have now been selected to take part in the pilot scheme. Each library will build on its current offering to introduce a ‘Lend and Mend Hub’, forming a ‘network’ of sustainable, circular hubs across the country. The nine libraries are:

  • Wester Hailes Library, Edinburgh
  • Forfar Library, Forfar
  • Kilbirnie Library, Kilbirnie
  • Orkney Library & Archive, Orkney
  • Aberdeen Central Library, Aberdeen
  • South West Library, Inverclyde
  • Gorebridge Library, Midlothian
  • A K Bell Library, Perth
  • Girvan Library, South Ayrshire

Work to source equipment, upgrade the space and train staff to deliver this promising project is well underway. It is expected the public libraries in Aberdeen, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Perth and South Ayrshire will open their ‘Lend and Mend Hubs’ for public use soon.

Pamela Tulloch, chief executive of SLIC, said: “The ‘Lend and Mend Hub’ library project has the potential to create a real impact – especially at a time when all of Scotland’s communities are experiencing economic and environmental challenges.

“The introduction of this network will build on the important role our public libraries play, giving people access to resources they might not otherwise have to support responsible consumption and learning – with the added benefit of it being local and free. 

“With all nine public library partners now selected, we can’t wait to see these local library services transform and thrive for the long-term benefit of the communities around them. And with such wide geographical spread and diverse community reach, we believe this pilot project will provide valuable learnings in promoting the urgent need to adopt a more circular way of living and help develop a long-term model for libraries to be a hub of circular economy activities.”

A Co-Design Approach

The projects, led by SLIC, follow a co-design approach with all service teams bringing local knowledge and expertise to the delivery to ensure each hub is tailored to community needs. Upon completion, each hub will also introduce an education programme to support new skills development, helping to reduce inequality through equitable access to resources.

George Barrett, Sustainability Manager Circular Economy at John Lewis Partnership, said: “Sadly the throwaway culture and the waste it generates are unquestionably some of the biggest challenges we will face in our lifetime. The Lend and Mend Hubs are a fantastic way to begin to tackle this, and are a great example of the different kind of approach we need to consider - especially in the current cost of living crisis."