What is Exchange Library - Shop & Café
The Exchange Library – Shop & Café is a membership-based lending and exchange business launched in Aarhus, Denmark, in 2015.
It is a platform for discussing artistic efforts in collaborative economies, for rethinking trading cultures, economic practices and distribution in collaboration with artists, shop owners, business people, activists, students, retailers, local communities, and so on.
At our premises, members have access to a ‘library’ of equipment for home production of food and beverage, home made organic food products and food from small scale cottage industries, that they can either borrow or barter.
EL is a cooperative model, which means that all its activities are based on worker-owner membership. It is run by members, who own and run EL and its activities in a democratic manner. The enterprise is intended to be of maximum benefit to the members rather than to create an economic profit. This also means that the membership fees are used exclusively to cover remuneration for co-workers and day-to-day operations.
What is important for the EL is to create a business model where members receive payment for the work they do, and that everybody receives equal pay for equal work regardless of education, seniority, background, etc. It is also important to build a framework for establishing jobs.
In the Echange Library Café customers can shop in accordance with two different principles: Time-banking or Direct Exchange.
If the customer chooses to pay by means of Timebanking, the price of coffee is not calculated in money, but in minutes. Customers pay for food and beverage by working at the café for a specific number of minutes.
The other payment option is Direct Exchange. Customers can get their food and beverage in exchange for comestibles that they have produced in their own kitchen. Their product will then become part of the offerings available at the café and be bartered away to other customers.
The network of people who exchange their home-made goods at the café form a collective production community.
The attribution of value and the calculation of the ‘prices’ of products will be based on mutual agreements, trust, and join decisions on the value of a given product in relation to the work done to produce that product.
By accepting labour and home-made goods as payment, the project paves the way for discussing the value of work and economic transactions that are not part of the regular market, and of products and services which are not made for the market.