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Alameda Tool Lending Library Project Seeks Input

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed a specific tool, but struggled to justify the expense, find the storage space for it, or simply required it just for a one-time project? Or did you want to try a hobby out before committing to it? Tool Lending Libraries can help.

Alameda Post - a wall of tools at Oakland's Tool Lending Library
The library in Oakland. Photo courtesy Amarasiriwardena.

The Alameda Free Library is gearing up to build one has posted an online survey to get feedback from the community. Reponses will directly impact the project’s planning based on the needs of Alamedans.

Tool Lending Libraries empower individuals to borrow tools and equipment for free, just like books. Early plans for the Alameda Tool Lending Library aim to include an extensive collection of tools for home repair, gardening, cooking, hobbies, and more. Knowledgeable tool librarians will be available to show how to use the tools and offer project advice in a demonstration space.

Alameda Post - three kitchen aid stand mixers
Stand mixers at the Berkeley library. Photo Thushan Amarasiriwardena.

Former Alameda Free Library Director Jane Chisaki kickstarted this project to expand on the small hand tool and seed library that already serves the community in the main library downtown. The goal of the project, Chisaki said, is “to serve as a community resource to provide homeowners, tenants, long-time residents, and newcomers with tools and the knowledge to work with the tools they need to repair or beautify their own homes and to empower individuals to take greater responsibility towards enhancing their community and the environment.”

The project, currently in the early planning phases, is exploring potential locations such as spots within Jean Sweeney Open Space Park or Alameda Point. The final space, budget, and community interest will dictate the amount and variety of tools when the Tool Library is opened in three to five years.

Alameda Post - gardening tools
Equipment at the Berkeley library. Photo Thushan Amarasiriwardena.

Tool Libraries are not a new concept. Neighboring cities, including Berkeley and Oakland, already have them, offering some 400 different types of tools across a range of categories. Those two libraries often host workshops and classes on various topics related to tool usage, home repairs, and gardening, providing more than just the tools, but also the knowledge and skills to take on projects. The Berkeley library was first opened in 1979, and the Oakland library opened in 2000.

More details about the proposed Alameda Tool Lending Library are on the Alameda Free Library website.

Thushan Amarasiriwardena is walking all the streets of the Island and documenting it along the way at He is the Vice President of the Alameda Free Library Board. His writing is collected at

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