The Liverpool Tool Library will let you borrow everything you need for your next DIY project
A library of tools helps DIYers in Liverpool tackle projects at home without having to buy expensive equipment.
The Liverpool Tool Library was started a year ago by Imogen Woolley and has since accumulated nearly 2,000 tool loans.
She estimates that, from the smallest jobs to major renovations, members saved around £55,000 over the 12 months by borrowing rather than buying what they needed.
“Tools are a necessity, but it doesn’t make sense that everyone has to own their own things, it’s all about sharing,” she explains.
Imogen had been cooking in the city center for three years when she started researching the concept of a tool library and how it could work in Liverpool.
“I really like DIY and I had a small workshop with tools that friends came to borrow. This got me thinking, what if you don’t have a friend who has the tools you need?
“I started looking for shared workspaces and sharing tools that way rather than a library at first, and then found out that tool libraries are a very common thing in Canada and the US. So I looked at the UK and saw that Edinburgh had a long standing one..
“I messaged them during the first lockdown and researched further how I could start a website and make it happen here.”
In October 2020 Imogen found the perfect premises in Aspen Yard at L8 and Edinburgh Library organizers launched the Liverpool Tool Library by donating 150 tools.
“It started our inventory and then we made a call and over the year around 600 tools were donated from the Liverpool area. People have been so generous and really motivated, which is amazing,” says Imogen.
“There were a lot of different reasons for the donations; obviously some people replace their old tools with new ones, but those are also people who want to save space, or maybe they inherited the tools from someone who died, or it’s just because that they believe in the idea.
“In fact, people came to give us tools and said, ‘Now I can borrow it from you, but others can too’.”
Imogen says the library avoids any potential embarrassment of lending to someone you know.
“If you lend something to a friend or a neighbor and it goes wrong, there’s a whole dynamic that can be a bit tricky when we’re very relaxed, above all we can fix things and it’s all about get people to use it,” she explains.
“I really like figuring out how things work and fixing things, I love that side of it, so a big part of the tool library is knowledge sharing. I learn as I go, and the volunteers too We take things from people who come and use the library so that we all share what worked and what didn’t.
The Liverpool Tool Library was launched in January last year, just as the country entered another lockdown, but Imogen says it likely contributed to its immediate success.
“It was an interesting time to open, but people reacted very well. They were stuck at home and eager to do anything. So we just put precautionary measures in place, like cleaning the tools and making sure they are safe to use.
“Tools can be quite expensive, or you can do a project that requires a really specific tool. I think the cost can hold people back and not know what to do with it afterwards.
“So many tools sit in a shed for months or years, not being used, and during that time they need maintenance, which can be a really unnecessary cycle. Thanks to the tools library, you know they are very well supported and used, so we make the most of them.
The Liverpool Tool Library now has approximately 680 different tools available online on loan and over 100 awaiting inventory. Drills are always popular, but miter saws were the most praised in the first year, along with folding ladders which can be very difficult to store around the house.
To be able to borrow, do-it-yourselfers only need to create a subscription via the library’s website where they can also view inventory and verify that they have the necessary tools. It’s pay what you can afford, but there’s a suggested annual fee of £20, then tools can be reserved for pick up and return on Wednesdays between 4pm and 7pm and Saturdays 10am to 1 p.m.
“Once you’ve signed up you can borrow anything you need at no extra cost and although we suggest a week’s rental, if you still need something and no one else wants, you can extend it for an extra week. It works because so many people have shared their own tools, which keeps costs down.”
Later this year, the library will hold workshops to make people more comfortable with power tools and repairs.
“In addition to helping people save money and reduce unnecessary purchases through loans, we also want to promote repair and repair instead of throwing away,” says Imogen. “If you have the tools and a bit of knowledge, a lot of what we throw away doesn’t need to be.”
Learn more about the Liverpool Tool Library here.
Article by Dawn Collinson