Libraries aren’t just a place where people can check out books anymore. They’re hubs where makers, builders, DIYers and the like can acquire the tools and resources they need to bring their projects to life. At least, that’s the case at Tacoma’s newest lending library, designed specifically for makers in mind.
Earlier this spring, the Gritty City celebrated the opening of the Tacoma Tool Library, a membership-based lending organization that, for a nominal fee of $40 a year, offers members access to a huge surplus of tools, resources and more. It’s just like a regular library, but with tools instead of books.
Visitors of this unique library, which is located at 1314 MLK Jr Way, are greeted by a friendly staff of volunteers before exploring the library’s expansive inventory, which includes everything from hammers and drills to ladders, lawn mowers, a variety of garden tools and much, much more.
The library isn’t the first of it’s kind, but it’s the first to grace the Pierce County region. Inspired by similar libraries in Seattle and other major cities across the US and Canada, Zero Waste Washington — a non-profit that advocates for the reuse and recycling of products for a more sustainable world — reached out to community leaders in Tacoma in hopes of replicating this sustainable model in the City of Destiny.
Excited by the concept, City of Tacoma employee Rebecca Solverson put together a team of individuals who were willing to partner with Zero Waste in an effort to bring the concept to Tacoma.
Mitchell, who tried to organize a combined workspace through Spaceworks a few years ago, was interested in the project from the start. “I got involved with the project in April of 2015,” Mitchell says. “Rebecca knew I would be intrigued by the project because of my day job.”
Since the project’s inception last spring, Solverson, Mitchell and other steering committee members — Sharayah Kinney (chair), Harlan Foster, Tom Diamond and Hayes Alexander — met regularly, working hard to create a business plan that would be both sustainable and successful.
“When I started, the tool library was still just an idea,” Mitchell says. “During our first meetings, we Skyped a lot with the Toronto Tool Library for ideas.”
In just a few short months, the steering committee was ready to bring its vision to life. With a solid plan in motion, they focused their attention toward fundraising. In summer of 2015, they launched an Indiegogo campaign and diligently began applying for grants, all while reaching out to community members for donations of gently used tools.
As monetary and tool donations flowed in, the Tacoma Tool Library also found a home in Tacoma’s growing Hilltop neighborhood. In less than one year, the library was ready to open to the public.
The Tacoma Tool Library opened its doors on Wednesday, March 9, but is excited to celebrate its grand opening with a big, community-wide party on Saturday, May 14.
Open twice weekly (Wednesdays, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), the Tacoma Tool Library encourages community members to visit the library in person or online for a peek at what’s inside. In addition to an expansive inventory of household, yard and specialty tools, the library also hosts a variety of hands-on workshops, led by talented community leaders.
Interested in becoming a member? For a suggested donation of $40 per year, members receive access to the library’s expansive tool bank, as well as its many workshops.
Want to lend a hand? Solverson says the Tacoma Tool Library is currently seeking volunteers who can help build the library’s tool bank, grow membership and even serve on the Tacoma Tool Library’s board.
For more information about the Tacoma Tool Library, its partners and more, visit the Tacoma Tool Library online or in person on Wednesdays and Saturdays, or during the library’s grand opening celebration, Saturday, May 14 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.