Borrowing a page from Saguaro’s recommended list of ways to build social capital, comes the emergence of a new kind of library: tool libraries. These probably help individuals save money over each person buying these tools, and these libraries may be good for the environment (as you avoid needing to have everyone buy a skunk trap, when they might need it only rarely). But the bad news comes in the social capital department: rather than this being friend-helping-friend (I’ll lend you my lug wrench and you take in my mail when I’m on a business trip) and thereby building up some trust, reciprocity and social capital in the process, these are libraries where you pay a few bucks a month and get to borrow common and uncommon tools. The social capital that would be build by more informal lending libraries or tool sharing would be way more valuable when it comes to things like deterring crime, helping schools work, ensuring health and happiness, etc.
At least the ones that are geographically based increase the chance that one encounters neighbors when you go to borrow a tool.
- North Portland Tool Library
- Atlanta Tool Bank
- The West Philly Tool Library
- Berkeley’s Tool Lending Library; actually part of their public library
- And why couldn’t this lending spread to kitchen gadgets or A/V equipment?
- Tech Shop: offers more tools, but loses a lot of the social capital potential of this idea
- List of U.S. Tool Lending Libraries
- Idea of Toy Libraries