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Tool Library for Every District

Helping individuals and small businesses reduce the cost of maintaining the places in which they live, work, and play. Tool libraries offer hundreds of hand and power tools for landscaping, home repair, and automobile maintenance.

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A pioneering scheme for this concept was founded by Dustin Zuckerman in Santa Rosa, California, in 2005.

The service is completely free, users must register some personal details and review borrowers rules and agreements. Most of the tools have been donated by civically minded citizens, and the Santa Rosa Tools Library is now a registered charity.

A Singaporean version run by the NEA might place a Tool Library in every district, situated in a central hub, close to MRT or Bus terminals. The purpose of this initiative would be to address the lack of storage space for most residents wanting to own a set of power tools, while providing them with the means to make improvements to their homes, gardens and businesses. 

Building on Zuckerman's existing model, the online home of the library could play host to a catalogue of success stories, highlighting how people have already taken advantage of the scheme to enhance their neighbourhoods, and offering videos and tutorials on the use of these tools. 

How does your concept inspire collaboration between individuals, private sector organisations, and the government in an effort to create cleaner neighbourhoods?

Individuals AND private sector organizations would be able to both contribute to and draw from this government sponsored initiative, in an effort to engender a sense of empowerment and responsibility for one's surroundings. This can be all too lacking in a context where most outdoor space is meticulously maintained by a veritable army of gardeners and maintenance workers. By taking away the burden of ownership for access to power tools, the initiative would be making small, incremental, positive changes to local environments infinitely more possible. There is also the opportunity for private sector organizations to add sponsorship or resources to the scheme. Tools could be donated free of charge, or monthly gatherings could be paid for by sponsors. The draw of these gathering could be simple workshops on different tools and skillsets.

How might your concept be scaled in a way that creates even more connections between people?

In addition to allowing members to borrow tools for their own purposes, a mobile incarnation of the Tools Library would host 'muck-in' days (could be sponsored by a coffee brand, drinks provided etc..) when users can come along and put all their tools to use in a common cause for the community.. building a playground for example. Also, it would be hoped that in conjunction with the physical meet ups, the online platform could facilitate the forming of small groups and the exchange of labour; one weekend you might be helping a (new) friend put some shelves up, the next weekend he/she could be helping to paint the ceiling in your living room!

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

Start with a single library in an area with little access to these tools, and build from there. Due to the local nature of borrowing/lending physical goods, scalability would be reliant on the strength of the movement's brand and the prominence of the sponsor brands it partners with.

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. How easy would it be for citizens to get involved and take initiative for this idea?

Very easy; this would rely on ground-up participation from the beginning. - 20%

Somewhat easy; there are ways for citizens to get involved, but an outside organiser may be needed to sustain and grow this concept. - 60%

This concept needs to be led and maintained by the government or private business. - 20%

2. Can you build this concept on top of something that already exists, like an organisation, physical space, or system?

Yes. This could fold into, or extend from, something that already exists. - 60%

This concept taps existing networks for a few things, but also needs a lot of new processes, materials, relationships, etc. - 20%

This concept requires a new system to be built to support it. - 20%

3. After the initial launch and support, could this concept be sustained and cared for over time by the community it's designed to serve?

Absolutely! This concept is easy to keep going. - 40%

It depends. There are opportunities for growth, but it's not yet clear how the concept would thrive after launch. - 40%

Probably not. A lot of effort would be needed to keep this concept going. - 20%

4. Does this concept create community?

Yes. It naturally brings people together and inspires them to take care of one another. - 40%

There is potential to create a thriving community. - 60%

No. It doesn't galvanize people to come together for a common cause or interest. - 0%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world. - 60%

I liked it but preferred others. - 40%

It didn't get me overly excited. - 0%


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Photo of Jiaorui Jiang

Great idea! This, if implemented, would be a great way to start a sharing community within existing neighborhoods and improve collective efficacy in the communities!

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