The Library of Infinite Loan is a physical world practice I conceived of many many years ago¹, implemented in minimal prototype form 5+ years ago², shared a summary with the #IndieWeb community at least four years ago at #IndieWebCamp Austin in 2020³ and last year in IndieWeb chat, so it’s about time I wrote it down.

Summary: lend a #book from your personal library to a friend, on the conditions that they do not donate sell or dispose of it, and instead when they are done with it they return it or lend it to someone else who agrees to these conditions.

My goal was to create a book lending system that:
* preserves books — effectively in a giant #distributed communal #library
* makes lending easier fiscally, psychologically, emotionally for both parties
* encourages direct person-to-person lending without intermediaries
* grows a culture of non-zero-sum sharing, preservation, and longterm thinking

The basic steps to create a Library of Infinite Loan:
1. Create a separate space (like a particular bookshelf) for #books to infinite lend. A small shelf in a guest room or common space like a hallway works well.
2. Move books there that you are ok lending out and never seeing again
3. Label that space your “Library of Infinite Loan”, or invite guests to borrow from your “Library of Infinite Loan”
4. When visitors ask what that means, explain the Rules

Rules for borrowing from a Library of Infinite Loan (“the Rules”)
1. Keep it as long as you like
2. Do not sell donate or otherwise dispose of it
3. You may give it
 a. back to the person you borrowed from
 b. or back to its original purchaser if they wrote their name and web address inside
 c. or (lend it) to someone else who agrees to the Rules

There are several ways to extend / expand the Library of Infinite Loan:
* custom book plate: design a custom book plate for yourself with room for your name (and web address) on it e.g. “From Tantek’s (@tantek.com) Library” (with space), print it on longterm adhesive paper, and place it inside new books you purchase. When you move a book to your Library of Infinite Loan, amend the book plate to say ”… Library of Infinite Loan” and attach a copy of the Rules.
* add a “borrowers log” with blank lines for anyone you lend it to or they lend it to, transitively, to optionally add their name, web address, and a date of borrowing. Then amend the rules to allow returning a book to who you borrowed from or anyone in the borrower log or original purchaser.
* more media: CDs, vinyl records, DVDs, LaserDiscs, VHS, cassette tapes, video game cartridges etc.
* other things
  * large tools — which usually come in a box with instruction manual, so there’s a logical place to put an “owners plate”, “borrowers log”, and copy of the rules.
  * artwork — a great way to rotate art among a community

This is what I remember off the top of my head and with a little web searching. I know I have a bunch more notes in various places of my thoughts (and conversations) over the years about a Library of Infinite Loan. As I find those notes, I’ll post them as well.

#infiniteLoan #libraryOfInfiniteLoan


¹ I’m looking through old personal logs for earliest mentions of “infinite loan”
² In my 2019 personal log I found a note that I “moved some books as library of infinite loan to guest room” where I had previously setup a small bookshelf for such books.
³ https://indieweb.org/2020/Austin/reading
I was also inspired by sharing the idea again to a couple of friends in an espresso-making livestream this morning

on (ttk.me t5Wh1) using BBEdit