How to start a tool library – Charlottesville edition

Our roadmap has been:
Find people who share your vision — and start. 

That’s pretty much what has happened to get the Cville Tool Library up and running. What started out as an email thread in the early days of the pandemic quickly progressed to multiple brainstorming meetings, and along the way several new folks wanted to be involved and the circle of interest has widened week by week. People who are involved share many interests, including artists, craftspeople, makers, environmentalists, tinkerers, homeowners, renters, and more. But they all share one overarching belief: access to tools and knowledge is empowering. 

What we’ve learned

We’re blessed to be part of a national Google group for tool libraries. This amazing group of like-minded dreamers and doers have willingly shared their experiences with wannabee tool library organizers and established organizations around the country. Through this group, we have gleaned model operating documents, problem-solved via list-serve, and shared best practices and suggestions for community tool libraries across the United States and abroad. 

Thank goodness for Zoom for bringing local, like-minded people together during the pandemic. It seemed as if every meeting brought another potential partnership into our circle, and our group soon transitioned from Zoom dreamers to Advisory Board to Hey, we’ll open in Spring 2022!

When is the right time to start?

Starting a tool library has mimicked the start of any worthwhile initiative in many ways, most notably that there comes a time when you need to stop talking and thinking about starting it — and just DO it.

So here we are. 

It’s a leap of faith, Charlottesville. But at every turn, we’ve heard, “What a great idea!” and “I want to join!” and “How can I help?” 

Here’s what to expect

Over the next few months, the tool library will:

  • Hold tool donation drives to begin building our tool inventory;
  • Enlist volunteers to fill the many roles necessary to help the tool library serve the community as effectively as possible;
  • Recruit members whose involvement and financial commitment to the tool library will not only serve their needs but also help secure a sustainable future;
  • Plan events and useful programs for the Charlottesville community, ranging from Repair Café events, DIY workshops, and more;
  • Identify gaps in our initial donated tool inventory, and purchase tools to ensure that our inventory contains most-requested tools for our members; and
  • Put systems in place for cleaning and maintenance to keep our entire inventory serviceable and available for members.

Ready to get involved?

Great! Pick one or more of the following ways to become part of Charlottesville’s newest great idea:

Reach out to coordinators with your ideas to help us reach underserved populations and develop useful programming – and help us grow.

We can’t wait to see you – and talk TOOLS!