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.