Making gear available for BPL members to borrow is a great idea. Some suggestions for facilitating availability:
First, if BPL were willing to handle the logistics and manpower required, physically consolidate any donated gear at BPL's location (I suppose BPL already has some location to store the gear it sells) and have the shipments and returns of loaned gear handled by BPL at that location.
Second, finance all shipping expenses of loaned gear (to and from BPL) by BPL membership contributing to a fund that covers that expense, either through individual contributions as each member might be willing to chip in once in a awhile, or by providing the option to add some amount toward the "Gear Closet Shipping Fund" to the price of purchasing a BPL membership.
Third, whatever the means for funding the shipping fund, make access to BPL's Gear Closet available only to members who have made some contribution to the closet and/or to the shipping fund.
Finally, create a page at BPL's website to display the inventory available at the Closet -- with info about the status for each item (in stock, checked out, or reserved for some time frame), and the means to "reserve" and then "borrow" an item on-line -- all with "free" shipping.
One additional refinement -- perhaps have a couple of "pre-packaged" gear sets that pretty much contain the basics of what someone would need for a trip.
Then someone could "borrow" the prepackaged kit and add water, food, fuel, legs and go for it. An option for anyone just starting out, and also a possible solution for flying light to a destination and having the prepackaged kit shipped to your destination by BPL.
And BPL could even add a little excitement to the mix by offering a "brown bag" kit where you don't know what it contains until you actually open it up at the trailhead.
Would sure add spice to those trip reports. And opens new vistas of wilderness experience when those 3000 mile extreme expeditions into the wilds get to be too tame.
Just imagine the excitement that same route could deliver when undertaken with a "brown bag" kit opened for the first time at the trail head. Heck, some people would probably pay to experience that opportunity! Could just add it to the shipping fund as a contribution, of course.
And just think of the possibilities for revenue to BPL if that "brown bag" trip were marketed for a network to film the whole think as a "reality" TV show. Plus the promo potential for attracting new membership to BPL -- people who want a shot at stardom. Maybe a private jet could then be purchased to add to the Gear Closet!
Wake me up before something else pops into my mind, like a remote island in the Pacific -- with thatched hut and air strip included -- added to the Gear Closet.