The West Philly Tool Library
Hammers, shovels, ladders, cordless drills, chop saws, lawnmowers, weed whackers, pry bars and an engine lift are just a few of the more than 3,000 tools lining shelves, hanging from walls, and taking nearly every inch of floor in a section of warehouse at 1314 S 47th St.
There's an income-based annual fee ranging from $20 to $50. Borrowing is free. After a week, there's a $1-per-day late fee, although most tools on lease can be renewed.
Since the doors opened in 2008, the library's mission has been to “provide affordable access to tools,” said Executive Director Peter Foreman-Murray. The library aims to help lower-income people stay in and maintain their homes and gardens, Foreman-Murray said. But the library is for anybody of any income. Just over half of its 1,700 members pay the $20 fee for those who earn $25,000 or less, he said. The others are spread out all over the range – those who pay $50 make at least $75,000.
Everybody can benefit from not having to buy – or store - a tool they only need once or twice, Foreman-Murray noted.
The library is named for its geographic location. Anyone can join, and it has members from around the city, and even a few from the suburbs.
The West Philly Tool Library is nearing the end of a $10,000 Indiegogo fundraising campaign. The library has been able to “keep the lights on” and meet its roughly $40,000 yearly budget through grants, dues, donations and late fees. The money raised through Indiegogo would allow the purchase of more tools – particularly power tools, which are often checked out. It would also allow the library to hold workshops to teach people how to use the tools the library offers. Anyone who wants to contribute via Indiegogo can do so through Monday. Donations of cash and tools are always accepted, however. Find more information at the tool library website.
The West Philly Tool Library isn't the first of its kind, but does seem to be contributing to a new spate of tool library openings, said Monika J. Antonelli, an associate professor and outreach librarian at Minnesota State University now conducting a study of tool libraries.