Thursday, June 23, 2011

Community Tool Libraries

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My girlfriend and I moved into a basement suite in Calgary almost a year ago.  The house is fairly old, and when winter rolled around I discovered a number of deficiencies with the property.  I did not want to wait for my landlord to fix the problems, and decided to undergo some non-structural but highly beneficial alterations.  However I found that a number of the improvements I wanted to go about required some tools more than a basic hammer or screwdriver. 

My only options were to borrow or buy the tools I needed.  As we had moved from Edmonton to Calgary we did not have any friendly faces to borrow from and Edmonton was too far.  I loathed having to buy tools as I knew I would only need to use it once.  Regrettably I only had one real option and that was to buy the sometimes expensive tools new.

Recently I have had the pleasure of discovering the The Good Life Community Bike Shop in downtown Calgary.  As the snow melted and the air thawed I started riding my bike to work.  This is great for the environment, unfortunately it is not so great for my bike.  My bike has been put through its paces, I commute 50 minutes 5 days a week which includes a gargantuan valley and hill.  Since I have started biking again I have broken an axle, and had to replace my brake systems, straighten my tire. 

Fortunately I had done some digging around and discovered The Good Life.  The Good Life is a donation based not for profit community bike shop.  They provide several bike stands and all of the tools you need to fix any problem with your bike.  The Good Life also has countless used parts from retired bikes such as bearings to wheels and frames that are available at a discounted price.  The great thing is that I did not need to buy the tools, I would simply just head on down to the shop on the weekend and fix my bike.  Like a library I was able to go in and borrow a tool to fix my bike, a Tool Library of sorts.

I would have liked this scenario to been available for all of my household needs.  A community could pool its money to purchase one or two sets of all of the necessary household tools and create a Community Tool Library.  An annual fee would be paid to maintain the tools and replace retired tools when necessary.  You would have an account with the library and can borrow the tools for a limited time. 

If you needed hedge trimmers, a manual push lawn mower, garden spades, a rake, shovel you could walk 10 minutes to your closest community tool library.  When I needed a special screwdriver, various different wrenches to fix my toilet, adjust my car battery terminals, install a digital thermostat or insulation I could have saved myself the time, money and space by going to a tool library.  I found that some of the tools I needed, I only needed for one time.  Those tools are now sitting in my house taking up space that it wouldn't normally have.  I also had to spend time finding the right tool, as the new products at your local Home Depot come conveniently wrapped in packaging which prevents you from testing the screwdriver to see if it fits.

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