A nonprofit in Bridgeport, Illinois, is making their community more inclusive and accessible, one tool at a time.
Many people living in low-income areas don’t have access to the materials they need to make even the most basic home improvements. Most can’t afford to buy pricey tools themselves, nor can they afford to hire someone else to repair their homes. That’s where the Chicago Tool Library comes in!
Tessa Vierk and Jim Benton started the tool library in 2019. It functions exactly like a regular library, except instead of books, people can borrow tools they need for home repairs, woodworking, gardening, cooking, camping, sewing, and more. People sign up for a library card, and there’s a pay-what-you-can annual fee with no standard or minimum payments. Members can borrow as many tools as they can carry for seven days, and renew them if they need more time.
When the library first started, they had about 150 members. During the pandemic when more people were home, their membership skyrocketed. They now have over 1,500 members from all over the Chicago area and more than 2,500 tools to choose from.
In fact, they’re growing so fast that they’ve had to turn down tool donations, so now they’re searching for a larger building to hold “twice as many tools.”
“We are planning to relocate to a larger, more accessible location which also means more tools, classes, and lots of other wonderful services,” they wrote on their website.
They haven’t found the perfect expansion space yet, but they’re looking for a place that’s easily accessible from the transit system to make their offerings available to even more people.
“Probably 90 percent of the tools we have have been donated,” Tessa said. “A lot of people own too many things, and they would give their tools to us. So we have too many offers for tools that we don’t have the space to accept.”
What a fantastic idea! This innovative nonprofit is putting a new twist on an old concept, all to bring more equity to their community.
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