Athens Tool Library gives you access to over 500 different tools
Ever wish you had full and legal access to your neighbor’s tools? Such sentiments align with the philosophy of Athens Tool Library, the first of its kind in the Appalachian region. Located next to the ReUse Industries on Columbus Road, the library offers locals and non-profit organizations an opportunity to borrow a wide variety of tools through an annual membership.
Upcycling Tools and Community Sharing
Inspired by the concept of MakerSpaces the tool library’s executive director, Zach Holl, and his coworkers want to provide local people with essential tools they otherwise cannot afford or store. Holl says the space is for community sharing and community building, literally. “We have an interest in creating economic development from the waste stream, in a way that reduces our communities’ carbon footprint,” Holl says.
According to Holl there is more than 70 tool libraries in America, however Athens Tool Library is one of the very few located in a rural area. “It is very hard to support something like this with the very low population density in a rural area,” Holl says. However, the founders raised enough resources to attract Zachary Swick from the Appalachian Transition Fellowship (ATF) Program to help them start the project. “The ATF program was set up by a group of philanthropic entities to recruit young potential leaders who have an interest in changing the economic future of this region,” Holl explains. “He [Swick] gets a lot of credit for this.”
With more than 20 years of being a homeowner, Holl understands the struggle of not only buying, but also storing tools at home. “People are coming who can’t afford the tools, or they see it’s good value. Maybe they don’t have a place to store it or they have some kind of community sharing ethic.” Holl says. “Some people just think it’s a cool project.”
Access to More Than 500 Tools
According to employee Luke Black, there are over 500 tools available. “A little less than half were paid for brand new, some of them were bought used, and then we have a whole section of donated tools,” Black says. Athens Tool Library signed up several annual members within its first few weeks of opening. The yearlong membership costs $100 and allows members to borrow 10 tools for up to a week. But the tool library is just one building block in Holl’s community plan. “The vision is to create a workspace along with tools and equipment … This is just the first step in that direction,” Holl says.