The Toronto Tool Library enables people to borrow things they just need once, at a nominal cost, encouraging a sharing economy and more respectful use of our resources.
Toronto now hosts one of the many tool library and share shop schemes appearing worldwide
The Toronto Tool Library is Toronto’s first community space for sharing tools as wide ranging as generators and drills, to 3D printers and an open-sourced Laser cutter. Anyone can access the library! From community groups and small businesses, to anyone who needs a tool. This is about access over ownership. Similar Tool Library and Share Shop schemes are springing up all over the world.
Tool libraries: spirit of a global movement
DIY and repurposing culture has exploded in recent years, fuelled by open-source websites such as Intructables and Thingiverse where people share knowledge and how-to guides on how to make everything – from crafting your own bunk bed to making a wallet out of a juice carton to 3D Printing your own fidget spinner. Online marketplaces such as Etsy and Instagram have even allowed some makers and crafters to take their DIY to the next level, fully supporting themselves on the income they generate from things they make.
Tool Libraries are a rapidly emerging and important branch of this DIY culture, enabling folks who could not otherwise afford the expensive tools needed for these projects to access them at a low cost annual membership fee. Unsurprisingly, tool library locations are popping up across the globe.
For some members, a Tool Library is simply a convenient means to access tools for projects around the home. But for others these spaces are representative of a larger value system that stems from a long history. Concepts of lending and sharing have been shaped by communities that value reciprocity and the commons, who understand humans as only a small part of a larger system. These communities do not distinguish between economic growth and the impact it might have on our social and ecosystem health, but rather, they recognise that human wellbeing (and survival) is intrinsically dependent on how we protect the health of those systems.
Today we stand at a critical point in our human history, a crossroads where we have the opportunity to reconnect with the Earth and with one another, to strengthen a human-earth connection for which many communities around the world never stopped fighting. Less consumption and less waste, increased accessibility for those who have been financially left out, and a community-led opposition to a seemingly indestructible economic system that obstructs the human-earth connection.
Using the library may come from a variety of personal interests and needs, but the overall impact is shared. Tool libraries are one way to contribute to this mission of detaching human needs from monetary value. Clearly, there’s a larger building project at stake here – and we’re sharing the tools with which to build it.
Source & Main Image: TorontoToolLibrary.com
The Share Shed – Library of Things
Similarly, the Share Shed is a ‘Library of Things’ based in Totnes (Devon, UK). The project also enables local people to borrow items at nominal cost so that they don’t have to buy them for themselves. The aim is to build a more resourceful community, allowing people to connect with each other and share things they may need just once in a while, which also reduces our impact on Earth’s precious resources.
Less is more
Generally things we don’t use every day that take up space in a garage, kitchen cupboard, or spare room that could be easily be borrowed when needed instead. Often things are only used for a short time; the average drill is only used for about 13 minutes in its entire life. Items people might borrow range from DIY tools, camping and gardening equipment, sewing machine, carpet cleaner, projector, musical instruments or a gazebo.
Originally inspired by the Share Frome project, the charity Network of Wellbeing (NOW) decided to explore the possibility of a similar initiative in Totnes (Devon, UK). After a number of community consultations and surveys, it was clear the local community was very supportive of the idea, so NOW worked for over a year to take the project off the ground.
Why use the Share Shed?
On their website, The Share Shed share their values:
We strongly believe that:
- By collaborating we are stronger
- We have the duty to care for the Earth’s natural resources
- Sharing our ‘stuff’ allows those who can’t afford to buy these things to access them
- Connecting with others improves our wellbeing
- Sharing is fun!
Resource our community: Sharing items promotes community resilience and empowers people.
Respect The Earth: By sharing we’re encouraging a much more mindful and respectful use of Earth’s precious natural resources.
‘Peerby’ is a similar initiative in The Netherlands which uses a phone app to connect people
Peerby is the largest online sharing community in the Netherlands. With Peerby you can share and borrow items from your neighbours in a fun and easy way.
You simply download the Peerby app and borrow the things you need from people in your neighbourhood.
Start Your Own Community "Library of Things"
As the sharing economy continues to blossom, more communities are establishing "lending libraries" to embrace the beautiful benefits of sharing with neighbours. While this specific article tells you how to set up a Tool Library, the principles for a Library of Things are exactly the same. Happy sharing!