Sustainable Libraries in Action

Apr 21, 2023 | community, events, recycling, sustainability

Kingston Library, Libraries Tasmania ran the first ever Kingborough Repair Café on Sunday 2 April.

Staffed by Libraries Tasmania volunteers, and led by the Kingston Library Community Learning Coordinator, this is the first of a regular event to be held once every quarter.  The Kingborough Repair Café is registered under Repair Café International and is one of three Café’s in Southern Region, Tasmania.

The Café was a great success, with over 30 people attending and 20 items repaired and saved from landfill.

The type of items repaired included soft toys, socks, bags (even a library bag), chairs, drawers, jewellery and more.   A highlight for a community member was the repair of a musical ornament which had not worked for over 30 years.

All visitors complete a Repair Café Monitor form which outlines the repair requested, whether the item can be repaired and what type of advice or repair was undertaken.   Each person is also asked to complete a feedback form on completion of their repair.

The premise of the Repair Café is skills sharing, so not just turning up and a volunteer doing the work for you.   Volunteers work with the person to look at the repair required and support them be involved or undertake the repair.  At our café visitors were getting demonstrations and hands on advice in hand sewing, machine sewing, soft toy repair, how to repair jewellery items and small upholstery and woodwork items.  

The Repair Café works really well within libraries, providing a great referral point to DIY and Craft collections, both physical and online, as well as supporting social inclusion and community engagement.   It is also a great fit with Makerspaces.

A great way to engage community members providing a different volunteering opportunity and supporting the skills sharing economy.  

A few tips for starting you own Café:

 

    • Talk to other Repair Café’s that might operate in your area and utilise their skills and knowledge.   

    • Engage with your local community or men’s sheds to see if they can support the Café.

    • Consider registering with Repair Café International, as this has great resources, lots of expertise and an excellent network.

    • Recruit a diverse range of repairers so you have lots of skills to offer.

    • Advertise clearly about what you will and won’t repair (we don’t do large furniture items or electrical/electronics).

    • Ensure your volunteers feel supported and have clear risk management processes and guidelines in place.

    • Have a reading table and tea/coffee for your visitors.  This helps create a welcoming environment. 

If you would like further information on Repair Café International please visit Home – Repaircafe

If you would like to contact Kingston Library to ask more questions about their experiences with Repair Café please email Kingston.library@libraries.tas.gov.au.

Article by: Sonya Moon, A/Manager, Kingston Library, Libraries Tasmania.

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