After several years of planning, Sustainable Capitol Hill is holding a grand opening for the Capitol Hill Tool Library on Saturday from 12 PM – 4PM. Sustainable Capitol Hill president Gina Hicks summed up the purpose of the library rather succinctly: “Save the planet and the pocket book and create community.”
In an urban setting like Capitol Hill, many don’t have the space, money, or need to own a ladder or a set of big wrenches. That’s where the tool library comes in with more than 1,000 items now available for the public to borrow. Woodworking, maintenance, and garden tools make up the bulk of the inventory, but the library also has items like a dehydrator, a telescope, and an ice cream maker.
The tool library is located on Crawford Pl. between Pike and Pine in the former temporary home of Red Label Moto. After a long search for a location, Sustainable Capitol Hill sealed a deal with the First Covenant Church last March to open in the Summit Building.
There are two primary ways to put the new community space to use. The first is to check out tools just like a book library: the service is free, you can check out items for a week before renewing, and you can easily setup an account online or at the tool library. You can search the inventory here.
The tool share also has a public work space where anyone can come in to work on a project with their own tools or something checked out from the library. The space has some woodworking tools, like a drill press, table saw, and radial arm saw available anytime the library is open. Plans are in the works to install a bike station. Sustainable Capitol Hill is also helping to organize classes and workshops in the space.
There is a $40 suggested annual donation to help Sustainable Capitol Hill pay rent on the space and keep the tools in good working order. Currently, the library will be open three days a week:
Saturday: 9 AM – 12 PM
Sunday: 4 PM – 7 PM
Wednesday: 6 PM – 9 PM
Saturday’s grand opening will give neighbors a chance to join up, tryout a few tools, and learn more about what the library has to offer through a library scavenger hunt. The tool library is always accepting donations (sorry, no take backs) and the criteria is fairly wide open: “Anything that reduces waste or things that you really only use a couple times a year,” Hicks said. You can find the tool library’s wish list here.
CHS previously reported on the group’s initial efforts to mimic tool shares in West Seattle and NE Seattle, which go back to at least 2012. In 2013 the group refocused with a plan to run the library from an empty shipping container. However, the retrofitted “tool shed” failed to get off the ground when the group struggled to find a location.
Now that the library is finally open, Hicks said Sustainable Capitol Hill is hoping to hire someone soon to staff the space. In the meantime, the group is looking for volunteers to add to the library’s workshop offerings. “We really want to be a place for people to gather to share skills,” she said.
For more information, visit sustainablecapitolhill.org.