The Chicago Tool Library is a community nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide equitable access to tools, equipment, and information to allow all Chicagoans to learn, share, and create.
To break down common barriers preventing community members from accessing tools.
Purchasing and maintaining tools is expensive, but borrowing them is not. Our memberships are priced on a sliding scale to ensure nobody is unable to access our resources due to their financial status.
Having the space to store tool collections is a luxury most city-dwellers cannot afford. Becoming a member of a tool library means you have access to hundreds of tools without needing to store them in your own home.
A tool library is more than its inventory, it is a space for learning. We welcome anyone to visit the library to share your questions, problems, and solutions with our growing community. We will also grow capacity for training, programming, and workshops.
Borrowing tools allows you to experiment! When you don’t have to purchase an expensive tool you can build skills and confidence at your own pace and your own budget.
To combat inequitable and wasteful consumerism and build community and opportunities for growth.
When tool access is limited by your ability to purchase, there is inequity around who is able to change and repair neighborhoods and who is allowed to create. Tool libraries allow everyone to access tools regardless of income.
Most of us do not use our tools often enough to necessitate purchasing new. By sharing tools we reduce the manufacturing footprint of tools and divert unwanted tools from landfills and, instead, put them into the hands of thousands of community members.
To borrow you need to be a part of a community. Many in our city are not members of a community with access to valuable assets or resources. We are creating that community for all of our neighbors.
With resources we are able to improve our lives, our homes, and our city. By creating equitable access to tools we hope to create new opportunities for Chicagoans to grow.
Launched in the summer of 2019, The Chicago Tool Library is Chicago’s first community tool lending library. The first tool lending library in the United States was started in Columbus, OH in 1976 starting the first wave of American tool libraries. Other institutions started in this time include the Phinney Tool Library in 1978 and The Berkeley Tool Library in 1979.
Recently, a revived global interest in sustainability and sharing economies has given birth to a second wave of tool libraries across the world. Active tool libraries can be found in communities spanning the globe including Toronto, Reykjavik, Baltimore, Oakland, Vancouver, Calgary, Edinburgh, Seattle, Brisbane, Portland, Auckland, and the list goes on! In 2019 over 200 tool lending libraries provide tools and resources to their communities. Now it’s time for Chicago to join the movement.
The Chicago Tool Library joins the ranks of many community maker spaces, and even a few tool banks that serve nonprofit organizations, to provide Chicagoans with access to tools and resources to learn, share, and create.