Tool Lending Library - a Brief History
Berkeley's Tool Lending Library (TLL) was established in 1979 with $30,000 from a federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Originally housed in a portable trailer, the project began with about 500 tools and one full-time employee.
The aim of the project was to provide access to tools and information to people who lived in south and west Berkeley. The Library held focus groups to determine what services, tools and support materials the community wanted. $2,000 in seed money purchased a collection of home repair and how-to books housed next door at the South Branch Library.
Under the terms of the CDBG grant, the service was free to residents of low and moderate income in south and west Berkeley neighborhoods. Other Berkeley residents paid $.50 to $3.00 per tool. In 1988, Berkeley voters passed a property-based library tax, which allows for TLL's inclusion in the Library's operating budget. The service is now free to all Berkeley residents and people who own property in Berkeley.
Today, a permanent structure houses 2500+ tools. The project now employs 4 part-time staff. TLL employees purchase materials directly from manufacturers and local vendors. All materials are maintained by the TLL staff. Each of the 2500+ tools bears its own unique barcode. Items available at TLL are fully integrated into the Library's Catalog. They can be renewed and reserved online. You may search the Library's Catalog for tools by using a title or keyword search.
Weed eaters, hedge trimmers, demolition hammers and electric snakes are the most requested items. Ladders, cement mixers, hand trucks and dollies, plumbing tools, pipe threaders, circular saws, sanders, table saws, drills, extension cords, wheelbarrows, and post hole diggers are not far behind in popularity. TLL does not carry gas-powered or powder-actuated tools. A sizeable collection of how-to books, videos and DVDs is available at the South Branch Library.
Tools may be borrowed for 3 or 7 days, depending on the demand for the item. Fines for overdue tools range from $1 to $15.00 per day. Revenue from fines is funneled back into the Tool Library for repairs and replacement. Returning dirty or damaged tools incurs additional fines.