Paul Faget thinks that to drill a wall, it is not necessary to have a drill.
The same goes for the tile cutter that helped replace your kitchen backsplash, the eight-foot ladder you used to paint your living room, and even the tall drink dispenser that punched 30 people. at the baby shower you organized.
Very few homeowners need a shed, closet or basement full of tools when so many of the things people store are only used for a project or on rare occasions.
This is where the Louisville Tool Library at 1227 Logan St. steps in. The new Shelby Park-based nonprofit challenges modern consumerism by encouraging a borrowing economy. Just as people should have access to the culture of books and movies through traditional public libraries, this library of tools creates the opportunity to repair and maintain your home without emptying your wallet, draining your resources, or clogging your storage space.
When you want to read a book, you don’t have to buy it, finish it, and let it gather dust on your shelf.
As far as Faget and the other founding volunteers go, there’s no reason you can’t apply this concept to straight edges, paint rollers, mallets, chainsaws, and plumbing snakes as well.
Four days had passed since the nonprofit’s official opening when Faget, along with volunteer co-founders Shelby Rodeffer, Lou Lepping, and John Cooper, welcomed me into the tool library. For an annual subscription of $120 – or a sliding scale of 0.1% of your earnings – you can rent up to 10 hand tools and two power tools each week. If you need more tools for a specific project, the volunteers are ready to circumvent this rule, and they will also renew the rental after a week as long as no one has put their name on the waiting list for it.
“The first priority is making sure everyone who wants to be here can be here, and the second priority is keeping the roof over our heads,” Rodeffer said.
The community has donated a few hundred tools to their cause since the nonprofit first took possession of the space this spring. Visiting the library last week I saw the hammers, drills, staplers, handsaws, rakes, shovels and pipes I expected to see, and many other oddities I haven’t seen. Think InstaPots, beer brewing kits, sewing machines, LED selfie rings, cornhole boards, folding tables and outdoor picnic sets.
Lending tool libraries are not a new concept, and there are over 50 active in the United States., according localtools.org, a non-profit organization that follows them. In the month or so that has passed since these local volunteers pitched their concept in Louisville, they’ve been met with extreme generosity as people donate to their stock, but also questions – mostly about how they are so sure to see all of these rentals. Again.
Frankly, they are not.
Some things will disappear, and some things will break. That’s how the world works.
But that doesn’t mean they have to focus on that potential loss, or that they can’t do a lot of good in between.
“You have to unlearn a lot of things to get into the economic borrowing mindset,” Rodeffer explained. “You have to reframe your mind to be in a generous mindset and believe that when you put something out, someone takes something out of it, that they’ll put something in too.”
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It helps that the community they serve is the one that added donations to the collection.
“It all came from the community,” said Faget, who donated 40 of his own tools to the library. “It’s a lot easier for us to look at this collection and say ‘if something breaks and something doesn’t come back, it’s not the end of the world’.”
They’ve already checked out a handful of tools and started dreaming up a wishlist for what they might need in the future.
A woman came in with a picture on her phone, unsure of what she needed to put something together, and they were able to give her the correct Allen wrench. A few neighbors had talked about wanting to fix the drywall, and one was interested in the upholstery work, and they were able to replenish rentals for those projects.
Another guest wondered if he had scaffolding to help replace vinyl at a historic home. It’s not something they have in stock yet, but it’s the kind of demand that got the band thinking about what gaps they can fill in the long run.
There are many, and many go beyond the idea of construction. They are eager to provide tools for cleanup events and building projects hosted by other nonprofits. They store seeds of Louisville Seed Bank that library members can take and grow.
High on the list of priorities is transforming the library into a space for the community. At present, because they run entirely on volunteers, they are only open to the public on Wednesday evenings and Saturday noon. Even so, they have set up a puzzle table in the back and they have a selection of books for people to borrow or read on site. They want the library to be a “third space,” that is, a place outside of your home or work where you can participate in the community. They hope that by the end of the year they will be able to hire a full-time librarian to run the operation and they are eager to organize classes on how to use the tools they have. They want to be a resource where people can learn how to tackle small plumbing and electrical jobs.
The group is also very aware that many people who need access to tools may have transportation barriers. Once the library is more established, they would like to have drop-off days where they would bring rentals to the south and west neighborhoods of Louisville. Eventually, Rodeffer hopes they will have enough local support to have branches in other parts of the community.
The team makes a point of being community and local business focused. They don’t try to replace local hardware stores, and when their members need hardware, they refer them to Keith’s gear at 1201 Bardstown Road in the Highlands or at Oscar’s Germantown Hardware at 1515 S. Shelby St.
Overall, however, the library’s mission is to reduce waste, provide education, provide resources, and build community.
That’s what every lending library should do, they say. Having a space like this creates the freedom to explore in a way that isn’t necessarily encouraged in a traditional retail store.
They don’t care about a profit. They aim to help people help themselves.
“Anyone can try something without as much stakes and without too much cost,” Cooper said. “The advantage of a library is the freedom to browse and get answers, that’s the freedom of any library. I hope people will come here with the comfort of browsing.
Columnist Maggie Menderski writes about what makes Louisville, southern Indiana, and Kentucky unique, wonderful, and sometimes a little weird. If you have something in your family, your city, or even your closet that fits this description, she wants to hear from you. Say hello to [email protected] or 502-582-4053. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @MaggieMenderski.