America’s sharing economy continues to grow, with more people renting their houses and cars. Now tool libraries are proliferating too, offering people a chance to borrow tools that they might only need for a quick project, and to learn from others about how to use them. According to Cat Johnson of Shareable, there are 60 tool libraries around the world, including the West Seattle Tool Library and Makeshift Society in San Francisco.

Some of these tool libraries offer shared workspace for handy types and classes about do-it-yourself projects. Makeshift Society recently crowd-funded a Brooklyn location that will have a lending library of tools creative workers use, such as cameras.

Gene Homicki, who co-founded the West Seattle Tool Library, found that software used for book-lending libraries didn’t work for tool libraries, so he wrote a new program called myTurn whose motto is “Rental, Sharing and Lending Made Easy.” “We have an economy that’s uneven and sputtering at times, and we have this locked-up value that’s just sitting, whether in an attic, garage, or gathering dust in a warehouse,” Homicki told Johnson. He said the tool library offers a way to “get those things out of storage, and unlock their value.” So the next time you consider buying a sander for a one-time project, look into a tool library instead.

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