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Tool Library Gives Patrons The Equipment Needed For A Variety Of Projects

Joe Hudak

Arkansans working on all kinds of household projects have the opportunity to use tools they may need for no cost. The Central Arkansas Library System’s tool library at the Dee Brown Library offers equipment ranging from lawn care to power tools and car repair. Joe Hudak with the Central Arkansas Library System, says some of the equipment is not what you would find in a toolbox.

“I think that some of the more sophisticated bicycle tools are a little bit unusual. We have things like a wheel truing stand that typically is the kind of thing that a bike shop would own, but not your amateur rider,” Hudak said. The tool library, which opened this past April, has been in the works for years, becoming possible after Arkansas citizens voted to approve a bond refinance in 2015.

“We know that this is something that other libraries around the country have done, in some cases for quite a few years,” Hudak said. “And so when we held our bond election a few years back, one of the goals with those funds was to renovate and expand the Dee Brown Library and that included adding the tool library with circulating tools for people to check out.” The system looked at tool libraries in both Fayetteville and the Oakland Public Library in California for inspiration. Hudak says this new service is just one of many CALS already offers beyond book lending

“We’re always trying to expand the variety of materials that we offer. Before we had the tool library, we had musical instruments available to check out at one of our branches...We were looking for ways to build our collection, to have more of a library of things and to have a larger selection of nontraditional materials for people to check out,” Hudak said. Rachel Tanner, the librarian for the tool library, says CALS is always trying to find ways to expand its services to patrons.

“We’re not just a mausoleum for books anymore. We’re trying to be community centers for people to grow skills and learn new things and just innovate the area and tool libraries are kind of where it’s at,” Tanner said. However, books will still be a part of the tool library.

“We’re even building a larger DIY, home improvement book collection that’s going to be available at the tool library,” Tanner said. One of the many benefits she sees for the library is its cost efficiency.

“It’s just something for people who can’t buy the tools or don’t have space or maybe even are just doing one thing that they’ll use one time so they don't have to spend that money buying a tile cutter. They can spend that money elsewhere,” Tanner said. She says it can also be a space saver. People in smaller apartments can now use tools without having to store them. 

Patrons can check out any of the tools for free for up to a week at a time. To check out equipment, they must be at least 18 or older and have a library card.

Sarah Kellogg was a Politics and Government reporter for KUAR from November 2018- August 2021.