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Homeschool Crew Review: Lobster Network


 Now here’s a unique concept!  Remember all those books (or DVD’s, or children’s clothes, or whatever) you lent out and couldn’t find when you needed them because you forgot who had them?  Remember (blush) the books (or DVD’s, or children’s clothes, or whatever) you borrowed, and can’t remember who from? 

Well, Lobster Network, a free tracking and sharing website,  solves that problem.  Originally it was conceived to help friends set up inventories to lend and borrow from each other.  It allows friends you select to view the stuff you’re willing to lend. It will also keep track of what was lent and will notify both parties when it’s due to be returned.  This is something that would probably work out well for a church library, and I’ve suggested it to our church librarian.

Lobster Network will do a lot more, however; it can be used to sell or give your stuff to friends, one of your Lobster Network Communities, or anyone who happens to look at Lobster Network–you choose who has access to your listings.  Apparently it can even be used for offsite-online storage of work completed during the school year (simply scan the finished material and store it online as a zip file). 

Of course, you can also borrow or buy from your friends, your community, or the general public.  You can browse various item categories, and you can even set the distance you’re willing to drive to access the item! 

Lobster Network is also for private use.  Remember that resolution to make an inventory for insurance purposes?  Well, you can do that with Lobster Network.

Share it. Lend it. Borrow it. Trade it. Sell it. Give it away. Lobster Network is simple, easy, fast, flexible, controlled, helpful, secure ….”

There are two obvious questions:

How much does this cost?  Lobster Network is free, and what’s currently offered will continue to be free.

Is it secure?  You can choose the privacy level you wish—personal, friends, your choice of your communities, or the general public—for  anything you enter into the system.  What’s more, Lobster Network works with some industry security leaders to ensure the security and privacy of network users.

Our Experiences and Opinions

How did we use it?  Well, I listed some of the homeschooling books I got back from the consignment shop.  I joined the Review Crew community, and have many Lobster Network friends.  However, no transactions occurred.

This is, I think, partly because the system is so very new that there are not many users yet. The other point is that I’m in Canada, and most of my Lobster Network friends and community are in the US.  Shipping items across the border presents challenges I’m not willing to deal with. 

Lobster Network is unique in that it offers a borrowing and lending system as well as a private inventory; the option to use the  buying and selling features is a bonus.  I think it would work well among a group of friends, a group of sports families exchanging equipment, extended family members, or a group of homeschoolers.

This is a worthwhile system, and I’m planning to stick with it and promote it locally.  Once there is a larger local community, it will be very helpful.  I also may use it for an insurance inventory…if I ever get around to it.  (Hmmm!)

We found that the creators of Lobster Network are very open to suggestions about improving their site.

Is Lobster Network for You?

To find out more about Lobster Network, look at the videos and the Getting Started PDF on the website.   You can also read more at the Review Crew blog.

If Lobster Network looks like something your family could use, you can sign up for your free membership here.  

Disclosure Policy:   As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I used the free Lobster Network in exchange for our family’s honest opinions.

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