YouTube is for more than cat videos.
Ryan Dyment was browsing YouTube when he saw a video about Berkeley, California’s tool library, which has been around since 1979 and has thousands of members. He loved the idea that people could borrow a tool they needed to fix or build something, and was inspired to start his own version in Toronto. After six months tracking down the equipment with his friend Lawrence Alvarez, the pair celebrated the launch of the Toronto Tool Library on March 23.
Despite its trendy home, location isn’t everything.
Before settling on their current location, Dyment and Alvarez explored neighbourhoods throughout the city. Alvarez happened to have a connection with the Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (1499 Queen St. W.), which had space available in the basement. The only catch was that they had to clean out a decade’s worth of cobwebs and junk.
You’ll probably find the tool you need, and some you don’t.
The Parkdale Tool Library has over 500 tools available for loan (at the moment), more than enough to make Mike Holmes nod in approval. There’s everything from a pottery wheel to a paint gun to an ice auger, used for creating ice-fishing holes—tools that retail anywhere from $68 to $800.
Yes, there are late fees.
One of the reasons to have a tool library is to make those tools accessible to everyone. That said, there’s still an annual membership cost—$50 for individuals, $150 for businesses—but there’s a sliding scale for people who can’t afford the full amount. And while they do impose late fees, Dyment isn’t overly concerned with people abusing the system: “There’s always going to be a small percentage of people who will do that with any project, but you can’t structure it around them…. We choose to see the best in people.”
You can catch up on what you skipped in shop class.
In addition to loaning tools, there will be workshops on things like building a cabinet, properly handling power tools, and even a primer on the magic of 3-D printing. While he wants to share tools and skills, Alvarez says he’s most excited to help people connect with one another: “In the end, we really want to build a community.”