How I Created a Tool Library in Under Two Hours


Image credit: hisperati, used under Creative Commons license.

When I say "I", I mean "we". And when I say "tool library", really I mean lending network. But the core lesson still stands. Sharing is really easy, and often all it takes is broaching the subject.

Yesterday, when I posted about how to start a tool library, I had just emailed my neighborhood listserv to find out if anyone would be interested in sharing tools and resources with their neighbors. Within two hours of logging back into my emails, we had a functional system for offering and requesting tools and resources—and an amazing array of items available.I had been mulling the idea of a neighborhood tool lending system for some time now. We already had a listserv for handling road maintenance and other community news—the occasional cookout etc. So it seemed like the perfect place to put out some feelers.

But I was still astounded by the response.

Neighbors emailed with encouragement, and sent long lists of items including chainsaws, tillers, ladders, trailers and even a couple of kayaks that they would be willing to share. We immediately set up a group email, a system for tagging email subject lines, and a Google Docs spreadsheet for listing what's available. And we were done.

Of course it remains to be seen whether the momentum will last, but this was a powerful reminder for me that—even as we get excited about collaborative consumption, plenitude economics, and sexy high-profile sharing schemes like the Paris electric car sharing network—there are often simpler forms of sharing "infrastructure" that can be kick-started in a matter of hours.

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More on Collaborative Consumption
How to Start a Tool Library: Just Do It
Work Less, Play More, and Stop Screwing the Planet: Plenitude Economics (Video)
Roo Rogers on Collaborative Consumption
Paris Launches 3000-Strong Electric Car Sharing Network

Tags: Activism | Communities | Economics | North Carolina | United States