Why own a circular saw when you can just borrow one?

Duh! But what if none of your neighbors, friends, coworkers or family members have a circular saw, or extension ladder, or cement mixing tray or whatever tools your project requires? Wouldn’t it be great if there were a place where you could check out tools like books at a library—maybe after first browsing for them online—for little or no cost? Thankfully, such a good and feasible idea has already been turned into reality in more than 40 towns and cities around the world. These places where you can borrow tools, and sometimes take classes, are called tool libraries.

In the Twin Cities there are at least three community tool libraries: in South Minneapolis, Northeast Minneapolis, and the Hamline-Midway neighborhood in St. Paul. But you can also find them across the U.S., and in Canada, northern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Fuzhou City, China. (Know of others? Please help update this map.)

Share Starter, a non-profit organization based in Seattle, Washington, published a set of guidelines to help groups interested in starting their own tool libraries. The guidelines cover critical topics such as understanding the local market, fundraising, staffing, and insurance and legal considerations.

If you’ve ever used a community tool library, how was the experience?

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