The Berkeley Tool-Lending Library in Berkeley, California, is part of the town’s public library system. Any adult resident who has a library card can also check out tools, free of charge. Thousands of people use the tool library, with more than 100 new members signing up each month.
Berkeley’s tool library is one of the oldest in the country. It was founded in 1979 with a federal community development block grant (CDBG) of $30,000. It started as a collection of 500 tools housed in a portable trailer, with one full-time employee. The city took over the funding of the tool-lending library two years later, and in 1988 it officially became part of the library system.
Like other parts of the sharing economy, tool libraries are a way to use resources more efficiently. They make it possible for dozens of people to share one rotary tiller, one drill press, or one extension ladder, instead of each having to buy their own. Tool lending libraries help you save money, save space (frees up storage space at home) and share knowledge (share ideas and tips for home projects). Also, sharing tools protects the environment because it reduces the number of new tools that need to be made and sold each year. In turn, this saves the energy and natural resources that would be used to produce them. On top of that, tool libraries can serve as centers to promote sustainable living.
Tool lending libraries also are a community builder where you get to know your neighbors, discuss your projects together, and help each other out.
Even if you belong to a tool library, it makes sense to keep at least a small collection of tools of your own. This should include the tools that you use often and the ones you’re most likely to need at a moment’s notice.
To find a tool library in your area, check the site Local Tools