Durango Tool Library wants to lend a hand to local crafters who lack the tools they need to complete projects, whether it’s because of limited space, lack of money or someone is not comfortable spending hundreds of dollars for a tool that might get used only once.
While most tool libraries operate as a nonprofit, the Durango Tool Library is a public benefit corporation, which means it’s a for-profit business that is mission-based.
“Our mission is to provide tools and supporting resources through a sustainable and low-barrier service,” said Durango Tool Library co-founder Tenny Webster.
Webster and his partner and co-founder Kathleen Gollner created the Durango Tool Library for community members like themselves who may not have the means or space to establish a collection of their own tools. The library opened five months ago, and is located at 278 Sawyer Drive in Bodo Industrial Park.
Much like a public library, anyone with a membership can check out tools from the library. Membership can be purchased for $35 for one month with a renewal cost of $25 each month after that. An annual membership is $230 and a 10-year membership is $1,000.
“Our members are entitled to check out eight tools at a time, and they get to keep them for a week,” Webster said. “If you have a big project that’s not going to take you more than a month, you literally have access to thousands of dollars worth of tools for $35.”
Sustainability is another focus for Webster and Gollner. Part of the idea of the tool library was to pool collective contributions from members to develop a collection of tools that gets used more often than once or twice a year, Gollner said.
Webster and Gollner first found out about tool libraries while living in a 200-square-foot apartment in Vancouver.
“We used the tool library in the previous town we lived in a lot, and when we moved here, we were coming upon the same challenges ourselves with getting our hands on tools and not having the means or space to store them or buy them,” Gollner said. “We were itchin’ for a tool library here, and eventually we just figured we may as well give it a shot starting one.”
Gollner and Webster are both librarians by trade, and have degrees in library science.
“From a library science perspective, we had to develop our own cataloging approach, and then our own classification system,” Gollner said. “The cataloging is more for use so that we can keep track of all the individual items, and the classification aspect is more for users so they can go through and quickly find the things they need.”
Gollner said keeping a catalog system also allows the library to pay attention to the tools that are being regularly checked out so that future tool purchases can reflect the needs of members in the community.
In addition to traditional tools like saws, wrenches and drills, the Durango Tool Library also offers kitchen tools, such as baking sets, a sewing machine and even a dehydrator, among other appliances.
Cyclists in Durango who want to work on their own bikes, but can’t afford some of the more specialized tools can find an array of bike tools.
Webster said the tool library will likely host its first workshop about how to bleed hydraulic brakes on bicycles next month.
“We’re hoping to extend that type of workshop to a lot of our different tools,” he said.
Webster said he hopes to connect with community members who have expertise with different tools to help with workshops. He said the tool library will pay experts who run workshops, or offer them membership for some amount of time.
Currently, members check out tools, take them home and return them when finished. In the future, Webster said the tool library may allow space for members to work on and store projects. However, the library’s current location doesn’t have enough room for a workshop area or storage, he said.
“Having personal shop space probably isn’t going to happen in this location, but if we can continue and we have enough membership, we would love to move into a bigger place where we can have dedicated shop space,” he said. “Having dedicated space for incomplete projects would be really nice too.”
Webster said the thought of expanding services and moving to a larger space is at least a year and a half out.
“That’s when our lease is up, and I’m sure we can renew, but if we’re doing really well and have some extra cash to move to a bigger place, we’ll definitely consider that,” he said.
Members are encouraged to donate tools in exchange for potential discounts on membership, he said.