General ramblings

Edinburgh Tool Library

I’m so excited today to share with you the amazing Edinburgh Tool Library.

ETL logo I got in touch with Chris, the founder, and he super kindly answered my very long list of questions!

ETL Chris small
In fact, he answered so comprehensively, that I’ve split the post into two. Today will be a general intro to Edinburgh Tool Library (ETL), and the general concept of Tool Libraries, and then I’ll post Chris’ tips for setting up a Tool Library, so we can have an army of them all over the country!

Over to Chris!

Hi Chris

First of all, can you explain to us what a Tool Library is?

A tool library really is as simple as it sounds – it’s a library that lends you tools, rather than books.


Where did you first come across Tool Libraries?

I used to live in Toronto and one of my friends came over to visit me in Edinburgh. She told me about the Toronto Tool Library (TTL), and when I went on a return visit, I popped in to see how they did it.

What was your motivation behind setting up the Edinburgh Tool Library?

When I was at the TTL I met a young man about the same age as me who had been living sofa to sofa for a few months. He was out of money and luck, but had gotten a job as a roofer, starting the following Monday. His problem was that he had no tools. He had heard about the tool library and wondered if they could help. They set him up with temporary membership, and lent him the tools of his trade, without taking a penny from him. He was speechless and there was a tear in his eye.   I have been working with unemployed people in Edinburgh for several years now and I immediately saw how something similar over here could make a huge difference.


I know that the Edinburgh Tool Library is still in it’s infancy, but what has the reaction been like so far, both within your local community, and from further afield?

It’s been really great, and really encouraging. We are already nearly half way to reaching our goal of members for the year after 3 weeks (think we might revise our target!), have lent out dozens of tools and the word is gradually spreading.
In a wider context, we have been on national news and in the printed press, been contacted by a variety of other organisations in the UK and the USA, and even got support from Alan Dale (aka Jim Robinson in Neighbours) from down under.
We are global!!!

Is the project part of a bigger project, like a Transition Group?

Nope. We are doing it our own at the moment, but are keen to network with other organisations, establishing best practise, and helping others set up tool libraries in their communities.
We are the first, and currently only tool library in the UK.

What is your long term vision for the project? Any plans for things like workshops and Repair events?

So we are initially in phase one of our project, where we are getting the tools that have been so kindly donated, out and into our member’s hands.
The next step is to secure more, and longer term, funding, to establish a workshop where members can make and learn.

Do you think that this kind of resource should be more widely available?

The beauty about tool libraries is that there are probably around 80 across the world, and about 80 different models!
Somewhere there is a tool library that you can relate to, so there is a model to fit every situation. For this reason, tool libraries can work in every community, and every community should have one.


And if you want one in your community, check out this post here for the lowdown from Chris on how to set one up!

You can follow Chris and the Edinburgh Tool Library on social media:

Twitter: @ETLChris

Facebook: The Edinburgh Tool Library

Instagram: the_edinburgh_tool_library


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