Would you use the Edmonton tool library?

Posted by on Sunday, January 24th, 2016 at 12:56pm.

Details are still being hammered out, but soon Edmonton’s first tool library will soon be a reality.

Many major North American cities have a tool library and two Edmontonians felt it was time that Alberta’s capital city should have one as well.

The idea behind a library is to provide quality tools for people who only need them for one particular project.  An example would be a tile cutter, an unnecessary purchase for the average person who may only need to use it once.

The tool library would cater to homeowners who need single-use tools or who have just moved into a new home and don’t have the budget to purchase their own tools.  Tools can be as small and common as a wrench or tools that aren’t related to construction, such as a sewing machine.

Those contemplating investing in more complex tools such as band saws can try before they buy.

Robyn Webb and Leslie Bush of Edmonton established the non-profit organization which will administer the tool library which will be run by volunteers.  Bush had used a tool library in Winnipeg, and while working on renovations to his downtown Edmonton condo, it occurred to him that Edmonton really needed one.  He was buying all kinds of tools and renting others, finding it expensive and inconvenient.  If he could have borrowed the tools that he only required for certain aspects of his renovation it would save money and aggravation.

Volunteers will be familiar with the operation of all tools available through the library and will provide advice to patrons on how to safely use them. Once library users know the general operation of a tool they will have the confidence to proceed with their project.

Those wishing to become library members pay an annual membership fee. Tools are available for a set period of time, just like a book library.

A tool library has been operating in Calgary for 18 months with a membership roster of nearly 600 users.  Members pay $60 a year which the operators supplement with fundraising to keep the doors open. The Calgary took library also has one paid staff member.

Webb and Bush want to open the new tool library in a downtown location, handy for other condo owners who don’t have space to store their own tools. Organizers are still working out details, such as how much the annual membership fee should be set at.  In researching how other libraries across Canada are operated, Bush has discovered a variety of approaches.  Some ask for a pay-what-you can fee and some allow patrons to trade skills or services for use of tools.

The pair hopes to start the library by soliciting Edmontonians for donations of tools from people who have used tools once.  Estate sales in private homes are often excellent sources of used tools.

Depending on how quickly donations come in, they hope to have the library open for business later in 2016.  Those interested in the project can visit the Edmonton Tool Library Facebook page to be placed on an e-mail list.

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