Borrow kitchen items from a unique Carlton library

Borrow kitchen items from a unique Carlton library
Carol Saffer

Behind the Carlton Kitchen Library’s green wall is a space stacked to the ceiling with a wonderful variety of kitchen appliances and utensils available for borrowing by the local community.

Cultivating Community food systems and community engagement team leader Peta Christensen said people who lived in the Carlton housing estate and surrounding areas didn’t always have a lot of space in their kitchens.

“This limits what they can prepare, so increasing access to kitchen equipment at the library encourages people to cook at home,” she said.

“It’s also about a sharing economy and a circular economy where you don’t have to own everything.”

When refugees leave their country, they don’t usually bring their pots and pans with them, and setting up a new kitchen can be expensive.

By providing a space for donated unwanted appliances to find new life and promoting borrowing, the library hopes to act as a space for sharing cooking items and the rich cooking knowledge within the community.

Of the hundreds of items in the library, 80 per cent were donated.

“[For new donations] we have a wish list on our website of exactly what we still need,” Ms Christensen said.

Everyday items donated, such as kettles and saucepans, are given to new Carlton residents who are setting up a kitchen and home with little money.

Ms Christensen said most people understood how a library worked.


“We are part of a movement of share libraries, like tool libraries, toy libraries”, she said. “For most people, it makes sense to have access to what they want when they need it.”


Some popular items borrowed regularly are their event packs consisting of cutlery and crockery, glasses, cups and saucers etc., for large gatherings.

“These are very popular along with borrowing table clothes, picnic mats, big pots for cooking sauces and soups, food warmers, large esky drink containers, cake carriers, cake stands, and cake tins,” she said.

“We are trying to get away from throwing out 70 plastic plates, knives and forks after an event.”

Another advantage the library offers is a try-before-you-buy borrowing system.

“If you are thinking about buying an expensive kitchen appliance, say like an air fryer, and you want to test it out, take one on loan from the library first,” Ms Christensen said.

“We have quite a few people regularly trying out items.”

The library has 454 items and 167 members.

Funding for the library project is minimal, so it is only open on Friday from 10am to 12pm.

Borrowers can go online, reserve the items they want, and collect them from Kathleen Syme Library at any time that suits them during opening hours.

If online access is unavailable, Ms Christensen said residents could call, text or email their orders. •

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