For starters, the St. John’s Tool Library has the tools people need to take on DIY projects.
Just like a normal library, members borrow instead of buy. Borrowing gives affordable access to the tools needed for the job without the expense of ownership, and once the work is done, back it goes so there’s no need to have equipment cluttering up all over the house all the time.
But the Tool Library delivers a whole lot more than tools, and it’s all about community.
membership give access to tools for DIY projects, workshops and more
The St. John’s Tool Library is a social enterprise that builds community, skill, and sustainability, and they’re leaders in the local zero-waste movement. The organization is proud to partner with like-minded organizations like MMSB, whose support enables SJTL to help grow the green, social ecosystem in St. John’s.
Tool Library Manager and Director Mike Schultz says, “We lend tools, we offer workshops, we are a community hub of sorts where people come together, and in October 2023, for the first time, we’re working with the community to bring the very first Zero Waste Festival to St. John’s. There’s a lot going on!”
St. John’s Tool Library lends hand tools, power tools, and speciality tools
At its core, for an affordable annual fee, St. John’s Tool Library membership gives DIY builders, makers and creators access to an inventory of tools for all types of construction, garden, home-improvement, art, and textile projects.
Members can find the tools they need for almost any task - from knitting to paving a driveway - from the almost 2000 items in the library inventory.
Hand tools - Mike says, “Jobs get do-able when you have the right tools. From ratchets to wrenches to saws to palm sanders, we’ve got more than 1000 hand tools on offer.”
Power Tools - St John’s Tool Library has more than 300 power tools. Mike says, “We’ve got a great selection of power tools in our inventory, more corded than cordless but we have both. Whatever type of job you’re up to, these are the tools that make it possible. We’ve got power saws, paint sprayer, heat guns - you name it.”
Garden Tools - There are garden tools like lawnmowers and leaf blowers, rakes and hoes. Mike says, “If a group is starting a Community Garden, the St. John’s Tool Library needs to be on the go-to list.”
Specialty Tools - Mike says, “One of the things we want people to know is that we’ve got something for every task. We have specialty tools like concrete saws, tile cutters, and hammer drills in the shop for members to borrow, and we’ve got them at a fraction of the cost of rental.”
DIY workshops to learn good skills
Along with tools for the job, the St. John’s Tool Library wants to help people build and refine skills as builders and makers to build resilience. So the Tool Library is a ‘creation space’ where people can learn through others, and workshops.
St. John’s Tool Library Workshops are hands-on events that help people gain skills and confidence to take on their dream projects. Mike says, “The pandemic slowed it down, but we work with the community and bring skilled instructors to lead a wide variety of workshops - from hardwood flooring installation, to growing microgreens to the basics of sewing - and we usually sell out!”
The St John’s Tool Library is working on a furniture project. With support from partners, the project aims to be a full-service how-to to reuse and modernize structurally sound furniture, with tools, materials, and tips for DIYers to get creative. Mike says, “We’re talking about all the stages of renewing - refresh, refinish, reupholster as appropriate - for all types of furniture, from vintage to kitchen cabinets. This type of project honours good craftsmanship, creates great useful, modern furniture, keeps material out of the landfill, and builds skill.”
St. John’s Tool Library history
The St. John’s Tool Library was born of practicality and community vision.
Way back, founder Ian Froude wanted to start a greenhouse in his backyard and to do that he needed tools. That’s when the idea struck him – wouldn’t it be cool if there was a structure that offered everyone affordable access to tools?
Around the same time, Ian was in Toronto for Engineers Without Borders Board meetings and came across the Toronto Tool Library.
That was it. Upon his return in 2016, he made it happen.
He applied for funding and was a recipient of the IMPACT! Youth Sustainability Fund.
Ian says, “The IMPACT! fund allowed us to open doors, get other investors and support from the crowdfunding campaign. St. John’s Tool Library officially started in March 2017.”
Since its start and still today, St. John’s Tool Library has had an environmental motivation. Ian explains, “The goal is to decrease the amount of stuff we have, like the tools we don’t have to own don’t have to be produced, manufactured, mined, drilled, or shipped here.”
accessible, sustainable community of DIY on bus routes
The St. John’s Tool Library is about building a community of sustainability - good use of good things with good skills, and no waste.
Long before the pandemic made everything digital, The Tool Library was set up as an online resource. Members can search and book online so that tools are accessible for people who want to create, build and grow.
The St. John’s Tool Library entrance is the red door on Bonaventure Avenue, across from the cemetery but the street address is 151 Empire Avenue. It’s on a metrobus route - https://www.metrobus.com. Route 15 stops right in front of the tool library everyday. Route 2 and 10 are very near by and run frequently.
There is parking available right at the main door.
tool recycling - a place to donate tools
The St. John’s Tool Library accepts donations of tools from people who no longer need them. Mike says, “When people are downsizing they have no place to store their tools - they can donate them to the Tool Library, and still use them when they need them.”
St. John’s Tool Library - volunteers wanted!
As a community-based social enterprise, the St. John’s Tool Library works with volunteers on just about all aspects of the operation. Volunteers keep tools in order, ensure they’re in borrow-able condition, coordinate workshops, and help get the word out.
Mike says, “We’ve got volunteer opportunities for just about anyone who’s interested in any aspect of DIY, homesteading, or just getting involved to build a better community.”
special event - Zero Waste Festival
In October 2023, the Zero Waste Festival will be the place to learn about waste reduction from keynote speakers (in both English and French!), participate in workshops on bicycle maintenance and repair, furniture repair, upholstery and more.
The event is presented by St John’s Tool Library in partnership with Association Communautaire Francophone de St. Jean and with the support of MMSB are hosting Newfoundland and Labrador’s first Zero Waste Festival.
make a lithium ion battery pack
One of the best things about a collaborative progressive ecosystem is the opportunity to do new things. It’s all about good energy, and the fact that there are plenty of power-dense lithium-ion batteries around that are no longer doing their normal job of powering things like handheld devices. So the St. John’s Tool Library has battery power on its radar, and are looking to experiment with reviving lithium ion batteries for use on building e-bikes.
back to better basics
There’s a whole lot going on at the St. John’s Tool Library, and the best way to sum it up is with the words of the Founder Ian Froud - “A collaborative space and meeting area where people can get tools and do awesome things together.”