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Tool Lending Libraries

When you hear the word “library” what do you think of? A building or room full of books, films, and magazines that you can rent or borrow? You’re not wrong…but that isn’t the only kind of library out there! Home and garden tool lending libraries are another increasingly common type of lending library. While formal tool lending libraries have been around since the 1970s, informal ones have been around for much longer. If you’ve ever borrowed a tool from a neighbour or lent one of yours out to a family member or friend, you’re already quite familiar with the concept of a tool lending library!

The only difference is that formal tool lending libraries are on a larger scale, likely contain a wider variety of tools, and are often run by a local government agency or non-profit organization.

How do tool lending libraries work?

Tool lending libraries generally offer annual memberships that may cost anywhere from 25 to 100 dollars, depending on the services provided. As a member, you are then able to choose from the wide variety of home, garden, woodworking and repair tools and check out the ones that you need. After paying your annual fee, it is free to take out as many tools as you want for an entire year!

Home renovations and projects are much easier and cost effective when you are a member of a tool lending library!

Just like a regular library, you will be given a set number of days to borrow a certain tool. If a tool you need has been checked out, you’ll have to wait until it is returned. This can be one of the downsides of a tool lending library, as you won’t always have immediate access to the tools you need. However, this minor inconvenience can be mitigated in two ways:

  • Owning a few common tools such as a hammer or wrench can be helpful, as they are relatively inexpensive and can be used at a moment’s notice. This is especially handy in case of an emergency such as a leaking pipe!
  • It is recommended that you submit a request for a tool a day or two before you need it. This way, you won’t have your plans derailed when the tool you need is unavailable!

What are the benefits of a tool lending library?

Sustainable consumption

One of the greatest benefits of owning a tool lending library membership is that you are able to reduce your environmental footprint and take part in sustainable consumption.

Why purchase a home or gardening tool that you will only use a few times each year? If you think about it, it doesn’t really make sense for every individual household within the same community to own their own set of specialized tools that get used infrequently.

Tool lending libraries are a part of the sharing economy, meaning that they allow many individuals to share these resources instead of purchasing them all separately. This means that there are less tools being purchased, which ultimately leads to fewer tools being sent to the landfill.

Save money and space

Along with reducing your consumption and waste production, being part of a tool lending library helps you save money! Sounds good right?

Purchasing tools can be quite expensive, especially when it involves heavy duty or highly specialized tools such as a circular saw or a belt sander. Even renting out tools from your local home hardware store can end up putting you out quite a few dollars.

Tool lending libraries are extremely cost-efficient, as the annual fee is much less than the accumulated cost of each tool you check out over the course of a year.

Additionally, being a tool lending library member means that you don’t have to worry about finding a place to store your tools or contributing to needless household clutter.

Better tools and no need to replace batteries!

If you have ever looked into purchasing your own tools, you know that there can be a very wide range of prices, and the most affordable version of the tools often just don’t last. Their rechargeable batteries need to be replaced, the tool itself breaks, or it is just not good enough to get the job done.

This is another benefit of the tool lending library. They tend to be stocked with professional grade, high quality tools, and you don’t need to worry about replacing those very costly rechargeable batteries on the cordless drill.

Share knowledge and build community

In many cases, tool lending libraries are more than a building that organizes and stores tools for community members to use. Many of these libraries also host classes and community events that allow individuals to connect with each other and establish a sense of community.

For example, Arts Junktion is an organization located in Manitoba, Canada which aims to reduce waste and support the creative economy by redistributing reusable materials to community members. This organization has a tool lending library program and hosts workshops and events for community members to come together and learn new skills.

Find a tool lending library near you!

If you are interested in joining a tool lending library, there are resources that can help you find one in your location! Local Tools is a great website which has a search function that allows you to type in your city or state and find a tool lending library near you. If you live in the United States, Canada, or Great Britain, give this website a try!

Whether you are in need of tools for a home renovation project, or are simply looking for another way to connect with your community and learn something new, or perhaps offer your skills and services, tool lending libraries are great resources! If you are considering purchasing a new tool for yourself, please think about how often you think that you will use that tool and see if a tool lending library would be a better fit.

And, if you are considering a home or yard renovation project, check out the Green Home Renovations Mini-course to help ensure that you protect the health and safety of your family and the environment as you improve your space! For some inspiration on what a green kitchen renovation can look like, have a look at what I did in my home!

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