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Tool libraries, which have been around since at least the 1970s, offer communities a way to share resources that would otherwise spend the vast majority of the time sitting in drawers and garages. They make screwdrivers, saws, drain snakes, drills, chisels, and whatever else one might need for building and repair projects available to patrons either for free or for a small fee. By providing access to tools, these libraries help to build resilient communities, they empower their users, they lessen neighborhoods’ ecological footprints and they help to beautify areas.
Handily illustrating the benefits of access over ownership, tool lending is an idea that is quickly spreading. A directory of tool libraries now lists almost 50 around the world and there are more in the works. In August, the Center for a New American Dream, in keeping with its efforts to “change social norms around consumption and consumerism,” offered a free webinar entitled How to Start a Tool Library in Your Community. Over 200 people participated live and the webinar is now available online.