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Grassroots Wisdom Book

Libraries of Things

Sometimes we have jobs that need doing but we don’t have the tools to do them. And our neighbors don’t have the tools to do them. And we can’t afford to pay someone who has the tools to do them. What if we could check out a tool, just like we check out a library book at our public library? Libraries of Things, and especially Tool Libraries, allow community members to do just that.

The first known tool library, according to the “Tool library” entry on Wikipedia, was started in Grosse Pointe, MI in 1943, and one of the most successful and long-running ones, now the ModCon Living organization in Columbus, OH, was started in 1976. The idea behind the tool library is to have common yard and household tools available through community sharing for community and individual projects. The wiki entry indicates that there are four primary pillars of the tool library: lending; advocacy; maintenance; and education. In addition to lending the tools, library organizers and staff monitor timely return and collect late charges, maintain the tools for long-term use, and provide education on how to effectively and safely use the tools.

Libraries of Things are not limited, however, to tools. Communities have organized community sharing of electronics, toys, musical instruments, arts and crafts supplies, kitchen equipment, recreation equipment, and even science equipment like microscopes. What needs can you identify in your community that might be filled by a community sharing library?

For more tool library locations and examples, visit the “Tool library” entry on Wikipedia. For ideas on other “things” around which your community might create a library, see the Library of Things page.



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