Community get-together, 2014-08-12

We now have 19 items in the Library catalogue, the most recent addition is a pair of bolt-cutters, which Robin promptly borrowed to cut open a padlock.

We also discussed the situation with conditions of borrowing. One of the members had suggested that any conditions could be demanded when an item is borrowed. On the face of it, this looks like a good idea, and perfectly reasonable – if you want to borrow my stuff, I get a say in how it is used. A deeper look at this reveals the problems which may occur; if an owner can demand anything, the loan of items starts looking like exactly the situation we are trying to get away from – that of owners using their property rights to extract unreasonable payments, or “rents”. This could push the Library in a more selfish direction, where each member is permitted to gain whatever they can, rather than assisting and caring for other members, which is the overall intention of the project. For the majority of cases, it is perfectly acceptable to suggest the borrower cleans, maintains and cares for the item in a way requested by the owner, but the conditions should be limited. How to assess the limitations of these demands? As the Library is run by its members, any decision must be made collectively, this includes conditions put on an item. Anyone who wishes to put conditions on an item, is able to do so, but should these be seen as unreasonable, they will be challenged at a community get-together, and an acceptable decision reached.

Passwords were also handed out to new members – Andrew and Ed are now able to access the contacts page, so can speak to other members directly, and thus borrow items from them.

There is an ongoing conversation about how to deal with expensive items – whether the Library takes payments for membership or for individual loans. This is unresolved, for the time being we will experiment with smaller items, and in future cautiously add more expensive items as we are more confident we can deal with them.

Community get-together, 2014-07-01

Andrew added an item to the Library, a set of hair trimmers.  This brought up the question of hygiene – how do we deal with items which may affect the health of those who borrow them?  We decided to incorporate this into the conditions of borrowing; upon borrowing an item, the person taking it agrees to clean/maintain/etc. the item as specified in the conditions. In this case, the person would have to rinse the relevant areas with pure alcohol or methylated spirits, to remove any bacteria, etc.

We also talked more about how to ensure owners of items are recompensed if their item is broken or stolen. No conclusions were reached, but the debate progressed.

Funding for the alot.org.nz internet domain was granted from Tangle Ball, and the domain purchased.

Community get-together, 2014-06-24

Eight people were present today, we talked about how to protect the owners of any items which are lent to the Library, particularly those which are expensive to buy. A number of suggestions came up:
We will probably collect money through either subscriptions or pay-per-loan fees. This can then be put into a pot and used to repair/replace any damaged items, either via an external insurance company or directly by the Library. There are problems with this approach – a member may purposefully add an item in poor condition, then when it fails, ask for a new replacement. This is less a problem with simple items, for more complicated (and probably more expensive) items, the poor condition may be hard to spot. In this case, we may insist all new items which are added to the Library are examined by a number of other Library members before being accepted or covered by replacement/repair insurance. We could also restrict the items which can be loaned at first, until the Library has enough money to pay for any damage or replacement to the more expensive items. This may discourage too many people at first, as the more expensive items are likely to be more in demand.

Another item brought up was whether or not we should use police and courts to deal with any perceived malicious damage/theft of items?

TODO: think about the above items, come up with suggestions and ideas to solve them. Check tool hire companies, to see how much they charge, how they deal with insurance, how much it costs, etc.

First community get-together

At the first community get-together for the Auckland Library Of Things, six members were present; we talked about a number of situations:

How long would loan periods be for?
* A set period?
* Until the next person needs the item?
*Possibility of recall?

Until the website software is ready, how do we know where an item is? Who maintains the location of items?

How do we deal with items breaking or being damaged through normal use?
* Does the Library maintain a fund to repair or replace?

If the Library maintains a fund to repair items, where does this come from?
* A charge to lend each item
* Via subscription fees

How do we deal with members wilfully damaging, stealing items, not returning items promptly or other perceived wrongdoing?
* Escalation through levels of formality to apply pressure to the perceived wrongdoer: informal request from one person; informal request from a third party; formal request from the community at a get-together; formal action from the Library, potentially including expulsion or suspension; police and courts.

No decisions were made, each of the questions above are significant enough to require more time to think them through.

Several items were also made available to Library members; these will be added to the Catalogue page shortly.

Auckland Library Of Things – soft launch

At a preliminary meeting for the Auckland Library Of Things on Tuesday the 10th of June, we talked about the following points:
1. There will be weekly community get-togethers to talk about the Library:
Tuesdays, 6pm at Tangle Ball, 27 Edinburgh Street, Newton. All are welcome

2. There is a simple website, at the moment it’s on Robin’s domain, at some point we will get a domain like www.alot.org.nz

Funding from tangle ball to buy the domain name was suggested: it would be $20 per year.

3. Does anyone have any items which they would like to make available to the library? The first items have been put in. See:
http://bumblepuppy.org/alot/?page_id=40
Let us know at following get-togethers if there are further things you wish to add. Robin will also put together a password-protected page with member contact details, which only other members can see.

4. Robin is looking at various pieces of software to do the tracking of items in a simple, decentralised way. This is going to take some time, so Ed suggested we start right now, doing things in a manual way. This is the draft process we put together:
a. The website holds a list of items available through the library, and the name of the owner of that item (or the person who cares for it, in the case it has been donated to the library). For the time being, Robin will maintain and publish this list, later on it will be maintained by all members.
b. If anyone wants to use an item, they contact the owner/carer and arrange to borrow it. The borrower may (if the owner/carer allows) then pass it on to another person when they are done with it, but the owner/carer must be told who it has gone to.
c. In the case the owner/carer does not hold the item at any particular time, they know who has it, and can arrange for loan to someone else.

5. The software packages Robin is looking at to manage the tracking and loaning of items are written in python and ruby on rails, join in at the link below or let him know if you have any knowledge there and want to assist modifying them for our purposes:

https://github.com/robinpaulson/distlib

https://github.com/medwards/free-library-on-rails/

Translators would also be appreciated, we would like the site to be available in Māori as soon as possible, later in other languages.

6. None of this is fixed, please comment on anything, make suggestions, come along next Tuesday June the 17th at 6pm.