Shelves full of tools and parts bins

Library Economy

In The Ecology of Freedom, social ecologist Murray Bookchin spends a lot of time exploring three key concepts: usufruct, the irreducible minimum, and complementarity.

These concepts are foundational to any cooperative, caring, and egalitarian society, but particularly to what Bookchin called ‘organic society,’ which consist of the egalitarian tribal societies that can be found in much of human history.

Beginning with the first essential concept for a library economy, usufruct refers to the freedom of individuals or groups in a community to access and use, but not destroy, common resources to supply their needs.

The second essential concept for a library economy is the irreducible minimum, which is the guaranteed provision of the means necessary to sustain life, the level of living that no one should ever fall below, regardless of the size of their individual contribution to the community.

Complementarity is a way of looking at non-hierarchical differences within a society as something generative, where each person contributes a small part to an outcome greater than the sum of its parts.

We Need A Library Economy – YouTube
We Need A Library Economy

A library economy would require a vast reorientation of our priorities from the centrality of capital and competition to the centrality of humanity and cooperation.

We Need A Library Economy – YouTube

…engage in building full-fledged library economies based on the commons.

This can take the form of tool libraries, vehicle libraries, clothing libraries, furniture libraries, and more in an effort curb overproduction, end planned obsolescence, and provide access to an irreducible minimum to all.

How We Can Change The World – YouTube