Does your community have a tool library?
Tool Libraries around the country and world make tools of all kinds available to residents in need of all types of tools.
Tool libraries are becoming ever increasingly popular. They are just like libraries in that they lend out resources, but instead of checking out books you check out tools. Tool libraries are essentially great for people downsizing their supply of stuff, learning to live with less, cannot afford tools or simply don’t want buy and store them.
Tool libraries are found in urban centers of communities or in center areas of communities that make it accessible for citizens to access either by foot, bus or car. Universities, libraries, churches, volunteer organizations or other 501(c)(3) non-profits are the types of organizations that offer these services to communities. One of the oldest tool libraries is in Berkeley, Calif. and has been active since 1973. As an example, it has approximately 5,000 tools of all kinds and for all types of projects available to community members with library cards. Residents of the Berkeley community check out tools, such as mowers, saws or hand tools just like they would if they were borrowing a book.
Localtools.org and toollibrarian.org are web-based applications to help set-up tool libraries. The former web-resource identifies tool libraries across the United States, Canada, and even the United Kingdom. The names, locations, and contact information for these community resources are provided for free. If you have recently established a tool library or plan to in the future localtools.org allows you to upload your information so it too can be accessed in the future.
Given that tool libraries are community driven initiatives designed to really benefit communities there are a number of resources available to citizens around the world interested in starting one of these. A number of organizations and do-it-yourself platforms offer advice and guidelines to getting started. Sharestarter.org, another web-based resource, offers a downloadable manual to get efforts started. The manual discusses structure of a lending library, budgets and financing, staffing, location, Inventory, outreach, marketing, social media, insurance and legal issues.
In addition, sharestarter.org also has a number of sample documents available that can help guide the processes around budget, employment, liability, stakeholder agreements, delinquency letters, as well as wish lists too.
The tool library is very much in sync with what is happening in today’s society where people want to live with less clutter in their lives, but yet still retain a relatively good standard of living. Tool libraries allow residents to continue that path and still be able to upgrade their homes, fix their own cars or transportation, build that backyard garden, or help on a community project by simply borrowing tools for a limited time.