Wallingford is soon to offer a new kind of community sharing: a “tool library” is in the works for the neighborhood. A tool library is community-run place to share tools with your neighbors. “In the process, they also build community, save resources, provide an opportunity for lifetime learning and can help build local economy,” writes Cathy Tuttle with Sustainable Wallingford. The group is offering an open community meeting on Wednesday, February 29 at 7 p.m. at the Wallingford Community Senior Center to help discuss plans for the tool library.
Sustainable Wallingford’s Rick Turner and Gita Gisan hope to model the new tool library after West Seattle’s successful tool-lending program. The West Seattle Tool Library has an extensive system for lending and community-building classes and projects, says Turner. Their volunteer-run library uses a database for keeping track of tools, and offers memberships by donation. They ask for $40 from the general public, $30 from seniors, and $20 for low-income members.
What types of tools will this library offer? Pretty much everything hand- or electrically powered, says Tuttle. “Garden, construction, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, woodworking, food preservation, party & meeting (tents, dishes, chairs), health aids, arts & crafts, musical instruments, brewing, culturally unique methods of working (ikebana, injera frypan), baking, knitting, sewing, bike repair, beekeeping, candle making, and more,” she writes.
Turner says he hopes the Wallingford library will be a place not just for tool lending, but also community building. “Anything we do will be to work toward building community,” says Turner. “If someone checks out a hoe and brings it back, that doesn’t really do anything to help the community.” Rather, Turner says he would like to organize or help coordinate connecting people to do a gardening project in the community each time someone borrows a tool. The group hopes to organize community projects such as Burke-Gilman trail maintenance, the 45th Street Clean-up, and the neighborhood greenways project.
The meeting on Wednesday will be aimed at forming a steering committee to help get the idea off the ground. Turner says he thinks it will be embraced by the community. After Wallingford’s library is underway, Turner also says that Sustainable Wallingford hopes to help organize more tool-lending libraries around the city. “The issue is around community,” says Turner. “We want to use this as a catalyst for community activities.”