Have DIY projects, but not tools? Libraries to the rescue

Tool libraries, which started in the 1940s as a communal resource, have once again found popularity amid the explosion of the shared economy trend.

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The first known tool library is believed to have started in 1943 in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, as an effort to help a younger generation learn how to use tools at a time when equipment was not widely available because of World War II. It was not until the 1970s when more tool libraries were established across the country with notable locations in Columbus, Ohio, and the Berkeley Tool Library in California.

In Missoula, Missouri, a tool library run by the Missoula Urban Demonstration project has more than 2,500 tools to loan members, MTN News reported.

“We have a member who’s making coffee tables, so they needed a lot of pipe clamps or wire clamps,” tool librarian Christian Russell told MTN News. “We’ve had several people come in and outfit their vans, as like a camper or a tiny home. So they’ve done all the woodwork here themselves.”

In Philadelphia, the West Philly Tool Library recently had a tool sale to support its library of 4,000 tools available to its 2,600 members. The tool library has operated since 2007.

The Historic Macon Foundation recently started a tool library and will offer home construction related workshops over the summer, WGXA reported.

The West Seattle Tool Library, started in 2009, was highlighted by Popular Mechanics and led to the library creating a resource to help other communities form their own. The Urban Sustainability Directors Network, a group of local government professionals across North America, also developed resources to create or find a tool library.

Tool libraries have become so prolific there is a map to find them.

“You really could do an entire project out of the tool library without having anything on your own,” Stephanie Davis, Greater Michigan Construction Academy Tool Library president, told the Midland Daily News. “It is a place where people in the community can come to check out tools. In this case, they could use (tools) for any home DIY projects that they may not have the means to be able to purchase (those tools).”