Tool Libraries: The Sharpest Tack in the Shed

This is one of those stories we should’ve done aeons ago. But we keep getting distracted by all the news of fresh endeavours. There is nothing new about tool libraries (the famous Berkeley Tool Lending Library was established back in 1979 and now contains over 2,500 tools), but it is easy to get entranced by the siren song of new gizmos. And ironically that is the point. Our consumer society is predicated around us owning all this 'stuff.' When really what we want is not so much to own it, but to use it. Libraries are perfect examples of this. We read books without having to buy them. Community toy libraries, which we have noted, provide the same delightful function. Little Johnny tires of that train set, so you swap it for a box of Lego. A tool library is no different. For those rare times when you need a ladder, rubber plunger or circular saw you just borrow it from the library. In some places there’s a nominal change, whilst in others the service is free. Either way it beats all of us owning wheel barrows, pipe snakes or post hole diggers and never using them. This way the energy expended in making such gadgets can be justified. Just how many lawn mowers do you and your neighbours truly need? Tool libraries are such a brilliant idea it’s wonder every community doesn’t have one. Wikipedia has a useful list of one that might be near you. If not, check out how others operate and work with your municipality to get one happening locally.

See also product service systems (PSS).

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