A New Lending Library ... for Your Kitchen

A New Lending Library ... for Your Kitchen

By Zara Stone

SourceRadius Images/Corbis


Because waffling on a waffle iron shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

By Zara Stone

Fondue sets, ice cream makers and juicers: fun kitchen gadgets to have, but frankly, who has the cash or counter space? The Kitchen Library understands. So it just rents out those appliances.

We’re talking four-day access to myriad cool kitchen contraptions. In addition to the aforementioned gadgets, the library is also home to a chocolate fountain (just think of the parties!), a creme brulee set, hand mixers and slow cookers — there are more than 100 items in the inventory.

I started The Kitchen Library because of a juicer. I couldn’t justify spending $300 on one.

The Toronto-based nonprofit startup was created by 30-year-old Dayna Boyer, a Canadian foodie who was frustrated with her small kitchen. “As someone who loves to cook and lives in a tiny apartment in Toronto, I definitely didn’t have space for the appliances I wanted,” she told OZY. “I admit I started The Kitchen Library because of a juicer. I couldn’t justify spending $300 on one,” she wrote on her blog

Boyer, who has worked in marketing and Web journalism, had been looking for a new challenge and was inspired by her work with the Toronto Tool Library, a business that loans out wrenches and power drills. She began thinking about how kitchen rentals might be similarly popular.

After putting out a call for equipment donations, Boyer was surprised by how much was handed in. “There’s definitely no shortage of people willing to part with unused or underused items,” she said. (As someone with a crusty popcorn maker and underused waffle iron, I know just what she’s talking about. *Blush.* )

The Kitchen Library is open four days a week to anyone over 18. For an annual fee of $50, users get three to five days (depending on the item) to use their chosen tools and return them washed and ready to relend. It’s your basic library system with a dose of washing-up liquid.

So far every item has been returned clean, but a few items have been broken. Boyer utilizes the Tool Library’s resources (nobody minds) to mend them.

There’s a whole revolution happening around home cooking and being in charge of what goes into your food.

And just like a book library, there are penalties for lateness. For those who are tardy returning their gadgets, late fees apply: $1 to $2 for most items and $5 for premium appliances.

But some of Boyer’s peers in the household world aren’t such big fans. Some argue the presence of appliances is crucial for a stable kitchen. “I think it’s a bad idea from a design standpoint because everything in the kitchen is designed around the appliances,” said Vince Felicitta, the owner of Brown Felicitta Design. “You can’t design properly if the appliances are constantly changing.” 

Members of The Kitchen Library share one unifying characteristic. “They love food, and usually live in a small space!” While Boyer wouldn’t share details about member numbers, she said the library is moving to a new location that would offer monthly membership.

With the change in season comes people’s changing preferences for products. Canners are most popular in the fall, and warm and comforting carb makers — like bread machines and pasta makers — are big hits in the winter.

The main idea is for people to take control of what they’re eating. “There’s a whole revolution happening around home cooking and being in charge of what goes into your food,” Boyer said.

Sure, it still boils down to cooks making the best choices — opting for the slow cooker over the chocolate fountain — but the main thing is that the preparation and cooking options are available. Which makes this kitchen library so valuable.

Nathan Siegel contributed reporting.