A growing number of communities operate their own tool lending library to allow residents to borrow tools free of charge because building a fence requires a lot of tools, and purchasing a brand-new post-hole digger, post pounder, measuring wheel, plumb bob and drill can be cost-prohibitive, and even renting can get expensive.
Tool libraries operate on the same principles as public libraries: Borrowers check out tools, complete their tasks and return tools for the next borrower. The organizations might operate as stand-alone nonprofits or as part of traditional libraries; some charge annual membership fees while others lend tools with refundable deposits and proof of identification. All tool lending libraries are focused on increasing access to a wide range of tools.
“There is a movement toward simplicity, toward not wanting or needing to own everything,” said Gene Homicki, co-founder of the West Seattle Tool Library and CEO of the equipment-sharing platform MyTurn. “People want access to tools but don’t want to buy tools or maintain or store them.”
In 2013, there were an estimated 50 tool lending libraries; the number has jumped to 170 independent tool libraries and an additional 200 public libraries that allow users to check out tools, according to Homicki. As more communities consider establishing tool libraries, these five tips can help ensure the operations are successful. Continue Reading →