Wife in the City: Northeast Tool Library


As I have said in this column before, our home has been a labor of love since the day we moved.  Our big ol’girl has taught us many things, from how to repair plumbing, all the way to appropriately staining and salvaging wood.  And truthfully, we could not have done all of this without the help of the Northeast Tool Library and its director, Thomas Ebert. 

So, maybe you are asking yourself, “What is a tool library?”  It’s just like the library for books…only instead of the sweet smell of musty pages, you get power drills!  Simply, you go and check out your needed tools and return them when you are done.  It’s a great way to save money on DIY projects AND it’s great for our environment to share!  Plus, Thomas is always helpful in suggesting certain types of tools to help you get the job done right!

And here is the exciting part…he wants to expand to the southside of Minneapolis!  (fingers crossed for it to  be in Corcoran neighborhood!) 

Wife in the Cities: How did you dream up the idea of having a Tool Library?

ThomasI lived in Portland, Oregon, where there are multiple tool libraries. I considered starting up another , but at about the same time we decided to move back to the Midwest. Coming to Minneapolis, I was trying to match our search for a home with the location of a tool library. Finding none, I decided to seek partners for getting one started. I found a great one in Zach Wefel, who'd been exploring the idea with the Windom Park Neighborhood Association. He and I discussed our vision for what it might look like, requested funding from Windom Park and a few months later we were on our way! Of course, this overlooks several details in the logo.pngdevelopment, like researching other tool libraries, hosting community meetings, and exhaustive location searches. Nonetheless, we obtained non-profit status, developed a board of directors, signed a space lease, and started accumulating hundreds of tool donations. I wish I could say the idea was ours, but thankfully others have laid the foundation for us to create from. In fact, this past spring, we attended a Tool Library Symposium in Baltimore to connect with dozens of other tool libraries This movement is going quickly and we very glad to be a part of it.

Wife in the Cities: How much is a membership and what all comes with being a member?

Thomas:  Annual memberships are $55 per year, offering access to over 2,000 individual tools, an 800-square foot shop space that includes table saws, band saws, compound mitre saws, drill presses, a planer, lathes,  and a 20% discount to our workshop classes in woodworking, plumbing, and electrical basics. Moreover, folks are then connected to hundreds of others in the community that come to work and share their experiences. So often we find ourselves disconnected from the skills and know-how we need, so we are creating those connections.

Wife in the Cities: I know you are hoping to have a second location in South Minneapolis and we are thrilled about that!  What are you hoping to bring to the southside community?

Thomas:  Indeed, we have plans to expand into South Minneapolis in 2017 and are very excited about the prospect. We also have aims to expand into North Minneapolis. First, however, we are expanding into St. Paul before the end of this year. We love the idea of sharing things to improve livability and would love to see more folks in the Twin Cities join in. 


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