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The city that gave America its first book-lending library also offers something I’d never heard of until today: a tool library. The West Philly Tool Library is a co-op where community members can borrow tools for home improvement and other projects they might not otherwise be able to do.

The library has more than 1,600 tools in stock including hand tools, wheelbarrows, extension ladders, circular saws, nail guns, and gardening tools. While most of the high-ticket items were purchased with grant money, many of the smaller tools have been donated in kind. A $20/year membership lets anyone — not just locals — borrow tools for a week at a time with $1 per day, per tool late fees. The library also offers how-to books and classes to help people learn to properly and safely use the tools.

Michael Froehlich, a member of the Library Steering Committee, had lived in Seattle and San Francisco, which both have tool libraries, so he decided to help start Philly’s own. The nation’s first tool library was established in 1979 in Berkeley, CA, and today over 20 libraries are renting out tools to folks in Portland, Kansas City, Atlanta, Buffalo, Columbus, and Austin, to name a few.

This seems like such a great idea I’m surprised these tool libraries aren’t in every city. I have a lot of respect for people willing to donate time and supplies to make sure folks in their area have what they need to make improvements in there lives. Although, if enough people get interested, like the lady in the video grinning from ear to ear as she carries an enormous pipe wrench to her car, we may see more of these crop up.

West Philly Tool Library [Website]
Article on West Philly Tool Library [Penn Current]


8 Responses to Borrow Tools At The Local Library

  1. Olderthanyou says:

    They’ve been doing that for years in California. I just wish it would catch on all over.

  2. KMR says:

    Why would you put that in West Philly. You’ll need to borrow that big-ass wrench in the photo to defend yourself with when you leave the library…

  3. Clint says:

    when i first read the post it mentioned a lady and I thought they were referring to the post picture which is a dude with a rockin beard!

  4. river1 says:

    peoria az just open a tool library. it is somewhat limited on the tools offered but i’m hopeful for future expansion of variety.

    later jim

  5. browndog77 says:

    Actually, Clint, that is the after pic. The dude w/ the beard clocked the lady with his shovel & grabbed the wrench!

  6. browndog77 says:

    Actually, Clint, that is the after pic. The dude w/ the beard clocked the lady with his shovel & grabbed the wrench!
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

  7. That’s a great idea! Ditto to everyone’s comments about it not catching on. More cities should have these. It’s great for the community.

  8. Michael R. says:

    I’m surprised you haven’t heard of it before. Dustin Zuckerman’s tool lending library http://borrowtools.org/ was written up in issue 18 of MAKE Magazine.

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