Patrick McCann, left, and Ira Webb pose for a photo in Whitehorse on March 24, 2020. The pair are co-directors of Whitehorse’s future tool library, in which people will be able to borrow tools under the same premise as borrowing books at a library. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Whitehorse could soon see a local tool library

Proposed venture aims to give member access to tools without needing to buy them

Whitehorse could soon have its own tool library, if its operators can secure the inventory and funds to open.

Greg Stone, who sits on the library’s board of directors, spoke with the News recently to talk about this venture.

He explained that a tool library runs under the same concept as a regular library.

“Instead of books we offer tools,” Stone said.

To get access to the tools, you will have to become a member. It costs $45 for a year. Once the membership is in place, you can borrow tools. Hand tools will be covered for free in the membership. There will be a small fee to borrow power tools.

He gave a breakdown on how the borrowing will work. Members will be able to pick the tools he or she wants to borrow, and set their own due date. There would be late fees applied for keeping any tool past the due date.

This should allow inventory to remain available.

Stone said there currently is a survey out. In it, people are asked to reveal what tools they would want the library to carry. He said there is a large demand for construction tools. This includes table saws, chop saws and compressors.

Woodworking tools, like saws and hammers, are also popular.

There is a demand for gardening tools. The library plans on having wheelbarrows, rakes and shovels.

Another popular demand is for tools to fix bicycles.

Textile tools, like sewing machines and snow blowers, are also in high demand.

“It would be really cool if we could get a snow blower,” Stone said.

He said the board plans on continuing to reach out to members and the community to ask what tools should be kept in stock.

Stone has experience running tool libraries. He ran one in Vancouver for three years. He wants to see this library run similarly to what has worked elsewhere.

Inventory has not been built up yet. That will be the next step. Fundraising will be involved.

Stone said there is a membership drive currently underway. The idea is to pre-sell memberships to help pay for the set up costs and open up the library. Memberships won’t become active until the library is up for business.

It will start when you borrow your first tool and expire a year later.

Memberships can be purchased online at fundrazr.com/whitehorsetoollibrary. If the idea crashes and burns, all money will be refunded.

The board is in the midst of applying for grants. He said he hopes to hear soon if the grants are approved. As of March 23, $180 was raised with four contributors. The goal is to raise $1,000.

After fundraising, he will look into doing tool drives. The surveys asked people if they had tools they were willing to donate. The response has been positive on this front.

“We expect that over 90 per cent of our tools will be donated,” Stone said.

Donated tools must be in good working condition. He explained that if a tool needed a large amount of repair the library would most likely not be able to take it. He clarified that if an item needed some minor work, like a blade sharpening for example, that tool may still be accepted.

He could not think of any tool the board would outright refuse at this point. He did say that if they had limited space to store extra tools, they might be more picky with donations.

He expects the donations to take place later in the spring, around May.

He added that if there are in-demand tools that are not obtained through donations, the library would go purchase them if needed.

“We’re going to make sure we have some funds to go purchase tools,” Stone said.

If a tool is not in high demand and there are no donations, the library will not make those purchases.

He said the board is debating if they want to carry certain items. He gave chainsaws as an example.

He explained that the issue comes from the fact that the user needs to wear protective equipment to use chainsaws. There is worry about member safety. He suggested that the library could have safety equipment to hand out or sell. There is also the option of potentially offering power tool workshops.

He said the board is only at the beginning stages of these talks therefore details have not been worked out.

As for location, this was included in the survey. The downtown and Marwell areas are popular responses thus far. The building itself could be a shed with a combination lock to something with a storefront. Many options are being considered.

The location will come down to what property is available and what it costs.

The goal of the library is to limit the barriers to getting tools to complete projects. Because of these barriers, people may not be able to fix things in their homes.

Another goal is to reduce consumption. He pointed out that most homes have lawnmowers that spend a lot of time not in use. The tool library could consolidate a city-block’s worth of mowers into one, he said.

He added that people wouldn’t have to purchase their own items and there wouldn’t need to be all the redundant products manufactured.

If all goes well, he hopes that the tool library will be up an running by the end of summer this year.

Contact Gord Fortin at gord.fortin@yukon-news.com

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