Proposed features/Libraries beyond books and multimedia

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Libraries beyond books and multimedia
Status: Voting (under way)
Proposed by: Imagoiq
Drafted on: 2021-02-18
RFC start: 2021-05-02
Vote start: 2021-06-09
Vote end: 2021-06-23


New types of amenities, that expand the word library to other items than books and media, appeared since a couple of decades.

 library of things and  tool library are practicing loaning of tools as well for the former an infinite range of objects. Objects can include for example: kitchen appliances, gardening equipment and seeds, electronics, toys and games, art, science kits, craft supplies, musical instruments, and recreational equipment.

 seed library are loaning seeds with the main goal to propagate them as much as possible. According to Wikipedia, the difference with a seedbank is that the seed library doesn't have a goal to archive or preserve the seeds. Due to the size of the lent objects, a seed library is more often a simple shelf inside a library of any kind than a standalone library, but they can be found as well in other places like communal spaces, churches, museums, etc.

Most of the library of things, seed library, or tool library have a similar model to libraries as they have an annual fee membership or even no fee at all, some have a fee per item. The concept has been mainly driven by non-profit organizations with an environmental or social cause.

Those types of libraries are totally independent of traditional libraries, but the items they lend are also reaching traditional one.

This proposal introduces:

3 main tags

Multiple secondary tags to better encompass hybrid libraries:

Add a new value to books=*


A growing movement of the sharing economy

The map of count more than a hundred of library of things and tool library across the world (and without being exhaustive; in Switzerland alone, there are 15 of them currently).

The map of count around two hundred of seeds library across the world.

Aren't library of things and tool library redundant?

It is true that Library of Things contains also tools. In fact, the movement of Library of Things has been preceded by the "tool library". The term "tool library" has been used for the first time during the second world war, and the concept is nowadays recognized as a subset (limited to tools) or an "example" of the library of things, but many places focus on tool only so another tag is needed to be able to understand the intent of the place.

Generic wording and usage

Traditional libraries are more and more hybrid in the sense of material lending has greatly evolved since some decades from multimedia material, toys, games, seeds…tools to things. Some suggested that grouping all types of library under amenity=library should be considered, but this is not backward compatible and a lot of amenity=toy_library and amenity=bicycle_library are already mapped.

Moreover, the idea to use more standardized wording like amenity=object_rental or "borrowing centers" have also been proposed to avoid using "library" as it isn't incoherent etymologically. However, other key=value doesn't follow this schema and the usage of those word seems common nowadays.

Defining three new tags will not only fit the reality, but also emphasize the main goal of the place. Those tags should be independent and comparable to what amenity=toy_library and amenity=bicycle_library are to amenity=library.

Hybrid libraries

Some of those new amenities as well as traditional libraries are also lending things, seeds and/or tools. It's common that a traditional library or a library of things lend seeds. Therefore library:*=*, etc. may allow tagging with a greater flexibility meanwhile keeping the primary goal.

How places are currently mapped

Free-standing library are using tags with a wide diversity. This show that these kinds of places embraces many aspects and ideas and the need of tags to correctly map it.

Here is a sample:

Library of things

Tool library

Seed library

Traditional library

No traditional library has been found with an additional tag to indicate the lending of things.

Are existing tag fit the use case?

As suggested by swiss_knight and Hendrikklaas, two current tags could be thought to avoid new tags:

  • shop=tool_hire
    • but it's limited to tools, targets professional audiences, and has a different economical model
  • shop=rental (combined with fee=no)
    • is a better fit, but the number of rental type could be infinite for a library of things and the word rent induce that a payment is made

Using Plural or singular on key=value

amenity=thing_library and amenity=tool_library follow amenity=toy_library.

library:*=* follow books=* (used on amenity=library).

Differences between library:books=yes and books=*

library:books=yes would only indicate that it's possible to borrow books as well. And books=* specify if the place lend only specialized books. For example, some tools library are lending books to learn how to use a tool and could be tagged like:


If the library has the sole purpose of lending things, tools or seeds:

amenity=seed_library should be used only if the place is clearly independent than the main place. For example, the place has its own address, website, etc.

If the library is traditional (main purpose is to lend books):

Tags that could be used with main amenity tags


Other services


Any suggestions are welcome for amenity=thing_library, amenity=tool_library and amenity=seed_library

Applies to

Nodes node and areas area

External discussions


Please comment on the discussion page.


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  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal.—-Dieterdreist (talk) 21:37, 9 June 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. Rayleigh1 (talk) 09:54, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Rskedgell (talk) 13:11, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. I suspect that we won't see much use of the tag, but there is a definite needed. Even someone in my local community was looking for a tool library. Glassman (talk) 00:10, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. Although I have my doubts, I'm fine with adding amenity=tool_library and amenity=seed_library. ---- Kovposch (talk) 06:02, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --ForgottenHero (talk) 14:07, 11 June 2021 (UTC)