Wikipedia: what is a Tool Library?
SW Portland Tool Library project
To set up a tool library in the SW Portland quadrant, similar to those in other quadrants of the city, that will provide SW Portland residents access to tools. In addition, this library will also seek to serve Downtown, NW and South Portland residents.
A site for the library and volunteer time are immediate needs.
This page is currently a placeholder, but will collect information on the project, and we will hopefully improve the content as the project progresses. Volunteering to improve the web content and branding is clearly an immediate need...
Google Group: /groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/sw-portland-tool-library
Info Email: 4243679591
Next meeting: 6:30pm March 12, The Watershed at Hillsdale (community room)
Links to Portland tool libraries that serve other areas
North Portland Tool Library
Green Lents Tool Library
Previous and similar current projects
Watershed Resource Center - with Tool Request Form (Gabriel Park)
There is an effort in further Southwest ("Fanno Creek Tool Library") that intends to serve zip codes: 97219, 97223, 97225.
There is also interest in a tool library in the Beaverton/Aloha area.
A small group of interested individuals met September 20th at Lucky Lab SW to review an initial list of parameters (such as boundaries), discuss possible locations and other items suggested on a Nextdoor thread, and set communication cadence. The items discussed are listed below by topic.
Area: Tool libraries should have a defined and limited area to manage inventory and limit travel time to the library, but include a sufficient number of interested users to support the library. This could just be SW Portland, but the Downtown and NW/S areas are sufficiently small and close-in to be included.
Calling the library SW Portland (rather than West) will allow a NW or Downtown library to be established if there is interest at a later date. In addition we believe including the unincorporated areas between West Portland and the suburbs should also be possible, but we will have to see if any contract will be partial to ending at the city/county boundary instead.
Location suggestions: (2 Portland tool libraries are in church space, 1 is in a community building, the fourth is in a Portland Development Commission building)
- Woodworker's Guild - interest in our project, but cannot host
- Garden Home Rec Center - confirmed "no"
- Lutheran church - request in
- Hillsdale UCC - response: no space available
- St. Barnabas - request in - so far no response
- West Portland UMC - request in - so far no response
- Neighborhood House - suggested, but not sure of contact
- Safeway on BHH and space by Rite Aide - lease agents contacted, no response, but also none expected. Lack of revenue likely prohibits commercial space
- Sears Armory - contacted PBEM and local NETs - response: goal to still be west side emergency operations center in the future, usage stalled by ADA improvement costs. We've asked to be included in community feedback when the next proposal is written.
- Multnomah Arts Center - managed by Parks Department. 772-408-1934.
Application deadline January 18th. Smaller classroom would be the right size, but is $824/month.
- space (200-1000 sq ft)
- hard floor (but no carpet)
- external entrance
- parking (a couple spaces, transit/walkability also important)
- security (not staffed most of the week, so storage not storefront)
- allow modifications (not a hard requirement)
- network (nice if we can piggyback on something)
Hours: Likely will be driven by volunteers available, but a Saturday window and one weeknight would be similar to other libraries. It was noted that the Seattle Tool Library is open Friday night and Sunday as well, to allow tools to have more than one lease over the weekend.
501c(3): Tentative offer from SW Trails org (pending proposal details/board approval) to be sponsor to bootstrap SW Portland Tool Library for a small percentage of donations to cover overhead. There was also interest in storing and perhaps lending the SW Trails tools.
In speaking with the NEPTL they started with a similar arrangement initially out of a neighborhood organization, and did not have their own 501c(3) until this last year.
Establishing a 501c(3) or sponsor relationship early will be important, to accept cash and tool donations.
- "Suggested" donation for membership is important to maintaining nonprofit status. NEPTL funding is almost entirely based on these ($12) donations and $2-5 late fees.
- Much of the non-organizational costs (insurance/utilities) will depend on the space available.
- Grant was used to bootstrap NEPTL, and NPTL did seek/receive grants in order to build an annex.
- Organization costs (annual costs/estimates): state filings ($100), insurance ($902), site rent ($6000), utilities ($600), web presence/inventory software ($72), PO-Box ($106), bank account, tool purchase/replacement/repair costs ($1000-5000)
- No paid staff - decreases paperwork and puts less pressure on finances
- Grants list from The Nonprofit Association of Oregon
Consumables: Interest in how other libraries deal with this. Discussion on options, handy to make some available, but need to set cost. Cheap safety gear (glasses, masks, gloves?) would encourage safe tool use.
Sponsors (possible): Aboy, Parr Lumber, Other (non-tool oriented) businesses (Lucky Lab?)
Software: Tool Librarian would have us share hosting cost for SaaS ~$71. Concerns about long-term maintenance of software and arrangement, but otherwise price and features are fair. In use by NE/SE/Green Lents libraries. No tool reservations in the software. Seattle Tool Library has 2hr reservation to allow users commute time to pick up tools.
Commercial SaaS equivalent: /localtools.org/, /myturn.com/
Tools: Set up poll on Nextdoor for next round of interest.
Policy (as with NEPTL) no commercial use and no gas/hazardous chemicals.
Donations of tools expected.
Request for bike repair tools, auto tools common library items as well.
Outreach: Southwest Connection, Farmer's Market
Miscellaneous: At later date site will require shelving/labels/desk/chair/computer.
Swag/branding: business cards, sponsor shirts, etc. (advertising - sell or giveaway)
Items/info from discussion with NEPTL board
- Will send us insurance info and bylaws (received 10/9 - while not sensitive information, not posting here)
- Only became stand-alone 501c(3) in recent year, originally sponsored by neighborhood association and under insurance of host (church)
- Current board size is 10-12, started with 7-8. Working board (NPTL is not)
- Budget is fuzzy: rent, 10hr/wk employee, annual filings and insurance
- 15K estimated over lifetime of library, mostly in membership donations/late fees
- Sponsors not significant contributions (Parr at-cost tools)
- Initially had volunteers commit to 1 shift per month for a year
- Volunteer experience varies, some have no tool experience
- The 10hr a week employee is responsible for finding volunteers
- The Portland tool libraries meet up once per year
- Consumables - limited, suggested donation of $1, but saw would have a blade
- No interest in inter-library tool exchange, because of recovery challenges
- Limited tool loss, more commonly broken
- Accept volunteers from outside of area
- Green Lents has a lease in a city-owned building
- Indicated that NET is interested in having access (keys) to tool libraries
- Would come to a future meeting for discussions
10/14 tour of NEPTL and discussion with Chris Hertel
- Very busy at 10am Saturday
- Received $10K grant at startup, originally in small garage
- $500/mo rent (including utils), next year ~$900/mo - hard to relocate
- Table saws and power miters most popular tools
- Electric mowers and spreaders in season, rototiller/mantis not in service
- Insurance doesn't allow gas/gas tools, annual insurance premium ~$902
- Board was spending most of time scheduling volunteers prior to recent 10hr/wk employee
- Stopped accepting most tool donations due to lack of space
- Used to have garage sale once a year and made $1-2K
- 2 tool fix-it days per month, mostly board but some volunteers
- Over 1/3 of church basement ~30'x40', with ramp access, added overhead fluorescent lights
- Cordless equipment stored in locked cabinet behind desk
10/20 tour of Green Lents Tool Library
- Building owned by Portland Development Commission, pay no rent, just utilities
- Limited hours due to lack of volunteers
- Garage sale and fix-it pile - broken or surplus tools
- Need volunteers and people to fix tools, users contribute blades/consumables
- Heated block wall building with overhead door ~50'x50'
- Not overly busy on this Saturday morning
- Left contact info, looking for more history on PDC deal
11/24 tour of NPTL and discussion with Marci
- Oldest Portland tool library, October 2004
- Housed in basement of city-owned Historic Kenton Firehouse
- Fairly full shelves in ~15'x25' area with small workbench and external stair access
- Addition in out-building (~12'x18') holds large or heavy equipment like wheelbarrows and ladders
- Popular tools include tables saws and weed whackers
- Limited cordless tools due to cost and issues with retaining batteries and chargers
- Most tools are donated, Spring garage sales bring in $800-1000. Surplus tools are donated to 5134914634
- One paid staff, the rest are volunteers
- Higher late fees ($2-15) help pay for staffing
- Limited large-ticket loss, but has happened
- On-site-only inventory and checkout database, notes kept on problem returns
- Fairly busy at 10am and 1pm with returns and checkouts
- This is the slow season, with most activity in April through the Summer
- Use Oneill's Tools for servicing tools that cannot be repaired by volunteers, as $50/hr labor is cheaper than elsewhere
- Use Oregon Carbide for sharpening blades
1/15 Meeting at Lucky Lab SW
- Jason, Alex and Don discussed next steps
- The pub is a bit loud, so Jason will schedule February meeting at the Hillsdale Library - room reservation TBD
- Don will provide Jason contact at St. Luke's Church to follow up with
- Jason will put together Financial Sponsorship proposal to take to SW Trails meeting - discuss further in January, hope to have final document for February meeting
- Jason will put together proposal for discussion with Joanne Hardesty and Marshall Runkel on topic of use/timeline for Sears Building, as well as community DIY/information sessions
2/19 Meeting at Lucky Lab SW
Attending: Jason, Denis, Alex, Chuck and Alexis
Further discussion on options to look at with the Sears building, no reason we couldn't use a shipping container (as SWTrails plans on) either here or elsewhere short/medium term. Set up a tent on tool loan days in front of it. Another vote for community/education space in the final Sears plan.
Smith School suggested as a possibility, though it is not easy to get to. Would depend on PPS work to re-open (unknown).
Alexis suggested additional churches (PDX Church) she would check on.
Chuck would ask Vermont Hills United Methodist Church about space.
Chuck agreed to be our second representative to the All Portland Tool Libraries meeting on April 1.
Alexis has an extensive non-profit and grant writing process background, and we discussed what may and may not work for us.
Discussed constructing our own outbuilding if a church is amenable to the project, but has open land instead of existing sheltered space (option, but not preferred and would have contract details to work out).
Jason will continue to work on finance and city agenda documents
- Collect list of possible grants, visit additional location suggestions
- March 12 6:30pm - Watershed Building Community Room, Hillsdale
- March 26 6:30pm - Meeting at Multnomah County Library, Hillsdale Branch
- April 1 6pm - All Portland Tool Libraries Meeting, NEPTL
- April 23 6:30pm - Watershed Building Community Room, Hillsdale