Have you ever dreamed up a repair or improvement project for your home or yard and then realized you’re missing tools you need to get it done? Maybe these are not tools that you would ever use again or would use only a few times a year. Maybe you’d rather not spend money on them, and then have them clutter up your storage space.
The Charlottesville Tool Library might be the solution for you! Just like a library for books, the Tool Library is the place to go to borrow tools, ranging from small hand tools to garden tools to more specialized power tools. It currently has an inventory of 550 items and counting. The library is staffed by volunteers, which includes a crew of “Tooligans,” who are the resident experts who identify, inspect, repair, and teach workshops on how to use the various tools in their inventory.
The organization was founded by a group of volunteers in mid 2021, and Taylor Frome took the lead. The library opened its doors in March 2022, and is one of the newest groups to partner with Virginia Organizing through a Joint Plan of Work. Taylor’s aim in starting the Tool Library is to empower the community while combatting consumerist throw-away culture by fostering a space for creative reuse and skill-building. She recently retired from working with Youth Build in Philadelphia, where she grew to love teaching hundreds of kids new skills that benefitted the whole community.
For Taylor, the library isn’t just about loaning out tools. It is about building community and a new kind of economy. “Every time someone gets a tool I am building my cultural home. I love people who love tools and fixing things.” The library draws inspiration from barter systems like time banks and skill shares and provides a kind of mutual aid that empowers people to do their own repairs rather than always buying new stuff or depending on contractors.
For now, the library operates out of a warehouse bay for three hours on Saturday mornings, but Taylor hopes this will change. “I want this to be an institution and not a start-up. I want it to be parallel to the library system.” They are always in need of more tool donations, volunteers, and members. Taylor envisions a full-time staff with regular workshops for the public offered from a permanent secure facility. Membership in the library is on a sliding-scale, and you can sign out items through their easy online booking system. To learn more about how you can participate and borrow tools visit cvilletoollibrary.com.