Just in time for spring gardening, group putting together Capitol Hill Tool Library

Hicks (Image: CHS)Screen shot 2013-03-18 at 11.55.32 AMCar sharing, bike sharing, house sharing — with spring’s approach, it’s time for some gardening tool sharing. Like Sustainable West Seattle and NE Seattle before them, Sustainable Capitol Hill is starting a Capitol Hill Tool Library.

“We as a community have a collection of junk that people can access, then people don’t have to go out and buy their own stuff,” said Gina Hicks, a member of the committee driving the tool library effort in the neighborhood.

Sharing includes every-day tools, and more specialized items as well. According to Micah Summers, manager of the West Seattle Tool Library, getting tool donations isn’t too much of a problem. In West Seattle they have everything from pliers and shovels to laser cutters and cement mixers. Summers showed CHS around the impressive array of tools in West Seattle and described how they are organized. A member of West Seattle developed a custom software system called Local Tools that West Seattle uses to organize the libary.West Seattle Tool Library1 West Seattle Tool Library2

Starting out, Capitol Hill isn’t likely to have as extensive a collection, but West Seattle has been running for three years. To help on Capitol Hill, you can swing by Monday night’s Sustainable Capitol Hill book swap or email chtoollibrary@gmail.com.

The plan is to provide an opportunity for people to donate power tools and hand tools that would otherwise gather dust, or incur an occasional use. Instead, suggests SCH, those tools could be put to use by neighbors. There is an ulterior educational and social empowerment agenda, but mostly it is about providing an arguably green and useful service. Things are still in the planning stages, so there is ample opportunity to get involved.

The two main concerns for the moment are funding and location — mostly location. West Seattle operates out of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, and the NE Seattle Tool Library shares a space the The Bike Shack on NE 80th, which is in a space owned by a church.

Teaming up with the Seattle Farm Co-op is one idea that Hicks would like to pursue. Finding a like-minded collective, or a generous patron with a garage could be the answer.

If necessary the library could move from garage to garage, if that ended up being the most viable option. Hicks and the rest of the committee are open to ideas regarding location. The upside of having a more permanent location (apart from people being able to easily find it) is that it would enable more of the educational element to surface according to Hicks. Learning how to use tools, fixer collectives where broken tools might be fixed by eager tinkerers — these are the more grand elements for planting seasons to come.

The existing libraries operate based on a voluntary membership donations. West Seattle started with a Department of Neighborhoods grant, and NE Seattle with a Clean Spaces grant. The CHTL committee is seeking similar funding. Grant writers are also welcome.

It would seem that all of the pieces are set for the Hill to have its own tool library. Seeing if there is the necessary will and demand is what’s next.

You can learn more at sustainablecapitolhill.org.

8 thoughts on “Just in time for spring gardening, group putting together Capitol Hill Tool Library

  1. This is a great idea. I just donated my drill to an auction because I realized I use it once every few years and my friends have drills I can borrow. I think this will benefit a lot of people. I certainly would use it.

  2. Hurray for you guys, and I hope you can find a place soon. I’ve been working with Sustainable NE Tool LIbrary and it is SO MUCH FUN, and super useful! It’s so great to see this popping up all over.

  3. Terrific idea – I’ll be using it. Live in a (tiny) condo with no room for tools – I’d love to be able to have access to things to do (tiny) repairs.

  4. I dig the idea but I need some space. I need a short term work space to rent. I am needing to cut some foam for a project but, as it needs a ventilated area I can’t do it in my Apt. Any ideas?

  5. Busbina – try a makerspace. I am a member of ALTSpace, at 23rd & Cherry – it is a community workshop stocked with tools, and you can either come in occasionally and drop a few bucks in the donation box, or you can sign up for a $50/month membership and get a key. Unlike a tool library, you don’t check the tools out and take them with you – instead you use them in the workshop.

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