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What is a Tool Library? (or, a Thing Library?)

What do you think of when you hear “Tool Library”?


I had assumed it was a place you could hire garden or DIY tools, until I visited the Transition Linlithgow Tool Library and discovered it is a whole lot more than that!


It would be more accurately described as a “Thing Library.” You can borrow pretty much anything, from kitchen appliances to power tools. “The concept of the tool library is to help people reduce unnecessary consumption as well as save money,” explains Neil Hutson, Community Engagement Manager for Transition Linlithgow. “You can borrow items that you perhaps only need as a one-off for a project or a few times a year, so it saves you buying something that sits in a cupboard or garage unused most of the time – a wasted resource just taking up space.”


It would be more accurately described as a “Thing Library.” You can borrow pretty much anything, from kitchen appliances to power tools.

While the bulk of the tool library is currently garden and DIY tools (everything from a drill bit to a tile cutter; a garden fork to a strimmer), you can also borrow kitchen appliances and computing equipment. The range is growing all the time, and donations of items are very welcome.



Ever organised a party and had to borrow urns, glasses, chairs? The Transition Linlithgow Tool Library have all this and more, and are able to supply a party pack. “We’re just looking at what is needed to complete our party pack,” says Neil. “We’re thinking some plastic plates and cutlery, but would welcome feedback from people as to what would be best. We already lend out the urn, thermoses, glasses, bunting and other things.”

Besides borrowing shared resources, moving to more sustainable consumption means making, creating and mending, and extending the life of items instead of throwing things away too quickly. So the tool library is developing into a skills sharing and skills development hub too. Donaldson’s School (where the library is hosted every Tuesday evening) have generously provided use of their woodwork workshop, so when the library is open you can also use the workshop there to work on your own projects. When I visited, a local resident was working on a bat box for his garden and a mum and son were working on wooden tealight holders. Likewise, a new sewing skills class has just been set up, taking place in the craft room at Donaldson’s also on a Tuesday evening. Learning new skills and getting out and about into a shared space brings a host of benefits too.


Besides borrowing shared resources, moving to more sustainable consumption means making, creating and mending, and extending the life of items instead of throwing things away too quickly.

To borrow an item, you need to sign up online as a library member. Go to www.transitionlinlithgow.org.uk/tool-library.html and follow the link to sign up. Browse the inventory and reserve your items in advance of Tuesday afternoons. There is suggested membership donation of £20 per year, but pay what you can afford - Transition Linlithgow would rather you paid less and used it than felt that the membership fee was a barrier. If you have a piece of equipment to donate, you get 6 months free membership!


The Transition Linlithgow Tool Library is at Donaldson’s School, every Tuesday evening from 4pm – 8pm


Follow the signs around the back of the building to “deliveries” and you’ll see their sign out.





Transition Linlithgow has worked for ten years taking action on local issues of sustainability and climate change. It is also a resource for:

*Recycling: information and drop-off point for difficult-to-recycle items such as crisp packets and biscuit wrappers.

*Active Travel – electric bikes for hire, led walks in the local area

*Home Energy Advice – book a free home energy visit to get advice on changes you can make to reduce your energy consumption

*And much, much more!


Please contact Transition Linlithgow for more information:

Unit 5 Braehead Business Units, Braehead Rd, Linlithgow EH49 6EP. Tel 01506 844182

www.transitionlinlithgow.org.uk




Transition Stirling also runs a tool library which operates in a similar way to the Linlithgow one.


Besides the tool library, it also runs Repair Cafe events, where you can learn to fix your own things, a repair service where you can leave items in for repair, a wood re-use workshop as well as various workshops on growing food, cooking, foraging, sewing and mending textiles and furniture upcycling.




They screen films on different aspects of climate change, and are setting up a Reuse hub where they will be selling second hand items.


Visit the Transition Stirling Tool Library information page here


Article published in Konect October 2019

Author: Helen-Jane Shearer


#sustainability #linlithgow #stirling