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'Library Of Things': What A Novel Idea

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YOU NEED to cut some tiles, you have a baby, you break a leg. Hopefully not all at once, of course, but it does mean you’ll need an angle-grinder or tile-cutter, a pram and cot and baby-carrier – and to employ someone to do your sleeping for you, as you won’t be doing much of your own – crutches, maybe a wheelchair depending upon how bad the fracture is.

It’s silly to have to buy a drill when you only need it to hang up one picture. But a ‘Library of Things’ lets you borrow one for between €1 and €5 a week (photo: Biblioteca de les Coses)

In short, stuff you need to buy, ranging from inconvenient expenses through to crippling costs involving a second mortgage.

Then, when Baby is on his or her feet and keeping you in a permanent game of ‘chase’, ‘catch’, and ‘don’t touch that because owww’, your leg heals enough for you to take part in said chasing, and those tiles are now attractively fixed to the wall, those crucial bits of equipment that depleted or emptied your savings are gathering dust in a spare room.

At some point, you might get around to selling them on eBay, recouping a fraction of your outlay and having the hassle of arranging courier firms and getting quotes so you can accurately price delivery costs for your eventual buyer.

Or if it’s something that isn’t likely to sell and you can’t find someone else who might need it, you’ll probably, at some point, call the council to arrange an ‘eco-park pick-up’, or just dump it in a bin yourself.

All that money, for something you’ll use once or, at best, for a few months, only to end up in landfill, polluting the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.

‘Object-o-thèque’

A group of residents in a Barcelona neighbourhood came up with the solution in January 2020, and what started out as a community project has now spread all over the city and to other parts of Spain. 

La Biblioteca de les Coses – in catalán; in Spanish it would be La Biblioteca de las Cosas – translates literally as ‘The Library of Things’ and is, according to project leader Eli Miralles, ‘an object-o-thèque’ or ‘objetoteca‘. 

Items are marked as ‘leisure and adventure’, ‘household and cleaning’, ‘office’, and ‘gardening and DIY’ in this section of Barcelona’s objetoteca (photo: Biblioteca de les Coses)

This comes from a word-play on biblioteca, meaning ‘library’ – the biblio bit refers to ‘books’ – and ‘objeto’, or ‘object’. 

So its purpose is exactly what you’d expect: A municipal building where you can ‘borrow’ things in the same way as you’d take a book out of a library, then bring it back after a set period.

Backed by the PSOE, or socialist party’s Sustainability department head Antonio Giraldo, a specialist in the circular economy, the ‘Library of Things’ has now expanded to other parts of Barcelona, including the Ciutat Vella and Ciutat Meridiana.

Once news of the idea got around, others began opening in towns and villages in the nearby shire of Alt Penedès, and in summer 2021, the town council in Arroyo de la Luz in the land-locked western-Spain province of Cáceres, Extremadura, sought advice from the Barcelona creators with a view to setting up their own.

Smaller, local schemes among groups of students or a handful of neighbours are operated in Galicia, although as a specific public entity that anyone can just wander into and become a member of, the Biblioteca de les Coses has proven a pioneer nationwide.

How it works

Nearly 300 people have used the Biblioteca de les Coses since it opened two-and-a-half years ago, and as different modes of membership are in place, they range from habitual borrowers through to passing holiday-home owners who just need an electric screwdriver to put up a shelf on their latest visit.

At ‘user’ level, members do not pay a subscription, but rent items they need for a symbolic fee – typically as low as €1 to €5 for the week – or at ‘friend’ level, they pay €10 which enables them to borrow goods worth up to €12 in ‘user’ hire fees.

Three different types of membership card for the Barcelona Library of Things, in the Sant Martí neighbourhood – where it all started (photo by the Biblioteca de les Coses)

You can also be a ‘superfriend’, which costs €20 and allows you to rent out items totalling up to €24 in borrowing fares.

For those who know they need to borrow a hand-held DIY tool but have no idea how to use it and are faced with paying a builder’s or handyman’s call-out just to hang up a picture, the Biblioteca de les Coses runs regular workshops.

Here, you can learn how to use a sewing machine, an electric screwdriver, drill, or how to repair items to prolong their lives or restore them to give them a new life rather than sending them to the local tip.

Each workshop costs €3, but those with a ‘friend’ or ‘superfriend’ subscription get a discount.

You can’t retire on the income, but it’s a ‘crucial public service’

Given that the hire prices are, necessarily, low – otherwise, there’d be no point in borrowing; you might as well just buy your own – the ‘Library of Things’ is not a profit-making enterprise and, in fact, barely breaks even.

Eli Miralles says the income only just, in a good month, covers the salary of a contract employee working there 15 hours a week, plus the items for rent themselves when they wear out, or extras for restocking popular ones, and maintenance where they need checks or repairs.

The launch of the Barcelona Library of Things in January 2020 (photo: @nusosSCCL on Twitter)

But Barcelona council is so keen on the idea that it gives the ‘Library of Things’ an annual grant.

Items are sometimes donated by residents, or bought from them, and the organisers are working on a long-term deal with the local Refuse Agency which would guarantee them set funding every year in the local budget.

After all, as Eli Miralles points out, the ‘Library of Things’ is a ‘public service’ and, ‘if governments really believe in the ecological transition process, they need to put their money where their mouth is and back schemes like this’.


Who borrows, and what do they borrow?

The most popular items taken out on loan are typically steam-cleaners or pressure-washers, hoovers, sewing machines, crutches, walking frames, drills, wheelbarrows, electric saws, or loudspeakers.

Around 400 different objects feature in the catalogue, and are normally lent for a week as standard, but this time period is flexible – it may only be needed for one day and storage could be impossible, such as a child car seat when you have friends or family with kids visiting from abroad, or hi-fi gear for a one-off party or event; otherwise, you might need it for longer if your broken leg is going to take a month or two to fully mend and rely on a walking frame meanwhile.

Some of the items you can borrow from the Barcelona Library of Things (photo: Biblioteca de les Coses)

Women tend to be the most frequent borrowers, and normally those of an age who have been living independently for enough of their lives to have figured out what they can do themselves rather than hiring a specialist, and how to do it, but just need the tools.

Around 72% of library users are female and aged between 40 and 60, says Eli Miralles.

And recent statistics have shown that, with soaring price-led inflation since the end of 2021, coupled with the uncertainty of the first two years of the decade over finances due to the pandemic, nearly half of Spain’s residents seriously consider buying second-hand goods rather than new whenever they need or want to make a purchase.

A foreign concept that’s crossing borders

Although the Barcelona Biblioteca de les Coses is a trailblazer in Spain, it’s not actually a brand-new idea on a global scale. 

Even the name isn’t a Barcelona original – it’s a literal translation of the English, as the concept of a ‘Library of Things’ is already a ‘thing’ in Anglo-Saxon countries, such as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the UK, to a greater or lesser degree.

It started out in the Anglo-Saxon countries – here’s one in a south London borough (photo: Wimbledon Community Association/Wimbledoncommunity.org)

This is in keeping with the much more prevalent and deep-rooted culture in these nations of buying and selling second-hand goods, charity shops, and house-clearance shops; the online auction site eBay was launched in the US, and Amazon’s sellers who shift second-hand items were also first introduced in the States.

Spain’s charity shop culture has mainly grown from foreign communities, although nowadays, customers and volunteers are just as likely to be locally-born; until fairly recently, unwanted goods were either given free to friends or family, dropped off at a clothing bank, or simply dumped.

“The Library of Things concept works very well and has been in place for much longer in the Anglo-Saxon world,” says Eli Miralles.

“We were completely unfamiliar with such a system in Spain, so we decided that, in the context of circular economy needs, it would be the answer to efficient use of resources.”

Games, including board and video games, for hire at Westport Library (photo: Westportlibrary.org)

It seems this has, indeed, been the case so far: Since January 2020, the Biblioteca de les Coses has made 384 hires of items, and prevented nearly four tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and over 1.5 tonnes of landfill waste.

The aforementioned Antonio Giraldo said the idea was ‘really cool’ (un concepto muy chulo) and that informal versions could be created by any local community or, on urbanisations and in apartment blocks with an established freehold community, within these – in the case of the latter, everyone chipping in small amounts for necessary DIY tools means being able to buy top-of-the-range versions that would last longer and be easier to use.

Questioned whether such a scheme, either merely among locals or an official, council-backed concept, would be open to abuse, or about problems with breakdowns, non-returns, and general maintenance, Giraldo says: “The proof is in how your traditional libraries work.

“People have been borrowing library books for centuries, and it’s always worked out fine.”

basque country

The Most Popular Game Of Thrones TV Show Locations For Fans And Tourists Are In Spain – Olive Press News Spain

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GAME OF THRONES fans are eagerly gearing up for the new prequel series ‘House of the Dragon’ which premieres on August 21 in the US and over the following days internationally.

Location shoots happened last year in Spain, with Caceres being used, like in Game of Thrones, for the drama which stars ex-Doctor Who, Matt Smith.

Trujillo Castle In Caceres
DRAGON’ RETURNS TO TRUJILLO, CACERES

The original worldwide hit used stunning international locations and four of the top five most popular for visitors are in Spain.

Pop culture specialists, Zavvi, produced their list of most visited locations by looking at photos posted on social media featuring location hashtags and filtering.

The most visited location is the Castillo de Zafra in Guadalajara- also known as the Tower of Joy, which featured in season six of Game of Thrones.

According to Google Trends, Thrones filming locations had a 92% rise in interest in July, with the Castillo de Zafra , seeing a 50% increase in searches.

Morocco’s Essaouira came second followed by Caceres with the old castle doubling up as ‘King’s Landing’.

Four on the list is Itzurun beach at Gipuzkoa in the Basque Country which in season seven showed the landing of Queen Daenerys at Dragonstone.

In fifth place is Peniscola in Castellon Province which became the city of Meereen which was captured by Daenerys.

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Cable Vs. Streaming: Which Option Gives You More For Your Money? – Olive Press News Spain

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Cable television has been popular for some decades now, but it’s quickly being replaced by streaming services. This phenomenon of switching from cable TV to streaming all of your shows is known as “cord-cutting”. Both of these media-consuming options give you a variety of shows to watch— for a price. Here’s a look at three factors that will play a major role in your decision.

Cable

The biggest reason that many people have decided to cut the cord is because cable prices are constantly rising. Costs may vary depending on which cable company you choose and which package you choose. The starting (monthly) prices for some of the most popular cable companies are:

  • Sparklight: $15.00
  • Suddenlink: $30.00
  • Spectrum: $49.99
  • Xfinity: $49.99
  • Cox: $53.00

These are just the base prices (meaning that the price increases with different packages), but they’re pretty affordable.

Streaming Services

Streaming services definitely beat cable at prices, notably because some of them are free. These include Crackle, Peacock (which has a free option), Pluto TV, Sling, Tubi, and Vudu. For the services that do require a paid monthly subscription, the starting prices are as follows:

  • Peacock (paid): $4.99
  • Apple Plus TV: $4.99
  • Paramount Plus: $5.99
  • Hulu: $6.99
  • Disney Plus: $7.99
  • Amazon Prime Video: $8.99 (free for Amazon Prime members)
  • HBO Max: $9.99
  • Netflix: $9.99
  • Philo: $25.00
  • Sling TV (paid): $35.00
  • Fubo TV: $64.99
  • Hulu + Live TV: $64.99
  • YouTube TV: $64.99

The live TV streaming services (Philo, Sling, Fubo, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV) are comparable to actually having cable, although many of their starting prices are higher than cable TV prices.

In the U.S., there are over 450 cable/internet providers to choose from— much more than the number of streaming services available. So at first glance, it looks like you’d have more options going with cable— and you do— but the majority of cable providers are pretty much the same. On the other hand, streaming services are much more varied when it comes to movies and TV shows, so you’re not as likely to have duplicate TV shows and movies like you would with multiple cable providers.

However, with streaming services, you’re limited to what’s on that particular platform at the time— and not all movies and TV shows stay on a platform permanently. Whereas with cable, you have access to whatever is playing on live TV. This is why it’s a good thing that you can subscribe to more than one streaming service at a time— you just have to pay for the ones that aren’t free.

Cable

When it comes to cable TV, you don’t get that much flexibility. For starters, with the majority of cable providers, you’re locked into a contract for a year or two— and a lot of times your monthly payment increases while you’re locked into your contract. Cables providers also aren’t too happy if you’re wanting to break that contract.

Another minor inconvenience is that because cable TV is live TV, you have to watch your favorite shows at a certain time— unless you have a DVR. You’re also limited to only watching on the television that is hooked up to the cable service.

Streaming Services

Streaming definitely gives you much more flexibility than cable TV. The biggest streaming platforms do not require you to sign a contract— you can cancel your subscription whenever you’d like. Many platforms also offer a free trial period (usually for about seven days) so you can decide if you want to subscribe before you pay.

You’re also able to watch your favorite shows and movies on-demand, or live if you subscribe to a live streaming service. If full seasons are available, you’re able to “binge-watch” without the inconvenience of a set time slot.

The final benefit is that you can stream on a variety of devices: smart TV, smart tablet, smartphone, computer, and even through game consoles like PlayStation and Xbox. You don’t even have to have a smart TV— Roku and Amazon Fire Stick are external devices that can plug into a TV with a USB port. There’s even a media hub known as Kodi that can house all of your streaming apps, and you can add additional media to this hub.

Overall, streaming platforms will give you more for your money. Prices rarely increase for most platforms, and when they do, it’s only by a dollar or two versus doubling in price. You can also subscribe to more than one service at a time, and you can watch on a variety of devices and on-demand.

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Andalucia

Freya's Style Tips: How To Dress To Impress During Spain's Fiesta Season – Olive Press News Spain

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WITH the holiday month of August upon us, Spain’s party season is in full swing. From pool parties to dub parties to town fiestas, where people of all ages mingle and drink together, it’s all out there for us to enjoy. But what to wear?

Nobody wants to be seen at the town fiesta in their dusty old campo clothes (well, maybe some people do!). Why dress down when the annual event to celebrate the patron saint or another notable figure in your municipality gives us a great opportunity to dress to impress?

Sometimes, a figure is handily invented for the purpose, such as the witches in the bustling Alpujarran town of Soportujar – all the more reason to look sharp. 

Freya Style8
Freya accessories for the town fiesta. Photo: Jo Chipchase.

Whether you like to be bohemian or glam, there’s always something you can wear amongst this season’s trends. Some fiestas have a parade or carnival vibe, which makes it easy to find inspiration and wear a satin gown. OTT? Never. However, even if the celebration is based around animal husbandry and farming – or bulls, such as San Fermin – you can turn camouflage into ‘glamoflage’ with a camo jacket decorated with colourful red roses, or a glittery star on the front. Don’t forget that it’s Andalucia, not the wilds of Kenya!

Freya Style4
Light maxi dresses are ideal for beach season. Photo: Jo Chipchase.

Whatever your shape or size, summer dressing can be complementary to you. Choose light maxi dresses in delicate fabrics to float over lumps and bumps and invest in a pretty lace cardigan or silk kimono to throw over your favourite denim shorts and t-shirt for easy, summer chic. A kimono is a handy piece to wear if you’re not comfortable showing your arms, or to use on the beach! We love a multi-purpose item. Linen is a classic and a timeless fabric that’s always elegant and cool to wear, whatever your age. Now available in so many shapes, styles and colours, it is truly back on trend. Just make sure you have your iron at the ready to ensure it looks its best.

Fashion advice and styling can be found in The Armario de Freya, Calle Correo, Orgiva, 18418 Granada.

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