Reasons to check out your local tool library

By Ashmeeta Subra 19 March 2024

More than just a place to borrow hammers and drills, tool libraries provide many benefits to the community, including saving costs, helping the environment and building happy communities.

A ‘library of things’ is a community-run program that allow members to hire all kinds of goods from power tools to sporting equipment, and one of the most popular type of these are tool libraries. While there is an annual subscription fee for members to gain access to tool libraries, members are usually able to save money and save new products from being manufactured just by borrowing from tool libraries. I mean think about it, do you use your drill often enough to need to own one yourself?  

Here are a few reasons to stop by your local tool library:  

Save money and space 

Whether it’s a lawn mower or saw, you can find almost any equipment you need for your projects without breaking the bank. By borrowing instead of buying, you’ll also free up some space in your home or garage. The Inner West Library of Things (IWTL) in Sydney released an impact report in 2022 that estimates their members have saved $324,000 over three years – paying $75 a year to access hundreds of items. Not only that, but their top borrower has saved over $6,000 during their two-year membership.   

Access to a wide range of equipment 

Many tool libraries carry other items beyond just tools. The IWTL stocks a selection of recreational gear from sporting, camping equipment and cooking appliances all the way through to items to borrow for your next movie night like lights and video projectors. Some IWTL members have also been able to complete major home renovations using home improvement power tools.  

Learn a new skill

With access to a wide range of tools and equipment that might be costly to purchase otherwise, tool libraries can empower individuals to explore new skills and hobbies. IWTL’s survey found that 30 per cent of members learned a new skill or hobby. If you’ve been wanting to try out new hobbies like woodworking, gardening or crafting, take the plunge and discover some hidden talents you may have. Should you find it isn’t your cup of tea, you won’t have to worry about any equipment cluttering your home as you can simply return them and borrow something else you might enjoy better. 

Connect with your community 

Tool libraries can be more than just lending centres – they are also places where you can connect with like-minded people in your community to share skills, knowledge and experiences. You may find it a great spot to hang out on a Saturday morning and get to know new people from your neighbourhood.  

 “I came for the tools and stayed from the people.” – Aaron, IWTL volunteer 

It's better for the environment 

By borrowing instead of buying, you’re not only saving money but also minimising your environmental footprint and supporting the circular economy by keeping an item in use at its highest value. Every tool you borrow instead of purchasing new is one less item manufactured, packaged, and shipped. The IWTL report also revealed that over a span of three years, 1.5 tonnes of items have been prevented from being sent to landfills. 

Contribute something more meaningful in your community 

Lending resources to help support community-driven initiatives such as neighbourhood clean-up projects and local projects or events, tool libraries provide a space for people to come together and make a difference in their communities.  

The IWTL is a 100 per cent volunteer run organisation that has provided support, advice and mentoring to over 20 other tool and share libraries and is supporting the development of the Australian Library of Things Peak Body.  

Use this map to find a tool library near you and get involved as a member, volunteer or donate tools you have laying around.  

Visit the following link to learn more about the sharing economy.

Ashmeeta Subra
With background in international relations and marketing communications, Ashmeeta is excited to use her skills to encourage positive environmental actions through Planet Ark. She believes that by taking small actions, we can help make a big difference and be good stewards of our planet. Outside of work, she loves spending time in nature and enjoying downtime at the beach.