At the moment, the future Carlisle Tool Library on Factory Street looks a bit like a combination garage and workshop in the process of being cleaned out.
Give it a few months, though, and Jeff Adams and the team behind the tool library hope to have a building full of tools available to loan, workshop space to rent and expertise to be shared.
Adams said tool libraries put a modern spin on the concept of sharing by empowering the community to fix, build and create things by offering space, tools and instruction at low cost.
“People donate tools and time, and then, with community experience mixed in, people can rebuild whatever they have that they need rebuilt,” he said.
Adams said the idea was developed through his travels when he worked with Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCorps. Communities in which he worked had similar arrangements, but on a smaller scale. Usually, it was a tool shed to which everyone had access.
“It was less of a business model and more of a community sharing,” Adams said.
The concept has been growing around the country for the past two decade, but the closest tool libraries are in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Adams said the team behind the Carlisle Tool Library recently visited the West Philly Tool Library to gather ideas and to learn how they might better organize their structure as they work toward becoming a nonprofit organization.
The library works on a membership model, which the team has yet to finalize. The idea is that anyone interested in being part of the library would pay a monthly or yearly fee that will be determined on a sliding scale based on the person’s income. The overall cost would be a fraction of what it would cost to buy a drill, for example, Adams said.
He also hopes to make the library available to nonprofit organizations, schools and churches.
Tools are “checked out” much as one would check out books from the library. With membership, people gain access to a majority of the tools available, depending on their level of experience with that particular tool.
“So if someone needs a lesson on how to run a skill saw, they would first take a lesson then be able to borrow that tool,” Adams said.
So far, all of the library’s tools have been donated by Adams, his friends and his family. The team bringing the library together hopes to have power tools, hand tools, garden tools and tools for auto mechanics. They even have a couple of small, electric snowblowers available, but they are steering clear of gas-powered tools due to the higher levels of maintenance they require.
Adams pointed out a sewing machine and an institutional-size coffee maker among the tools that will be available. Items like these are ones that people may not use too often, making it more economical to borrow one than to buy and store your own.
“We’re trying to not focus too much on one tool or another. We’d like to keep it open and broad so that people have a bigger sense of what kind of tool they can use in this space,” he said.
The library will be seeking local professionals of all trades and backgrounds to assist in the operation of the tool library.
“What we imagine for this space is a place where anyone can take a tool and build something with the help of a skilled network of people,” Adams said.
The tool library hopes to open in early 2018. Readers can keep up to date on the progress of the library on Facebook or connect with the library at firstname.lastname@example.org.