Somerville Tool Library to Open in February

A new take on the sharing economy, where people swap houses, give each other rides and rent bikes from places like Hubway, is coming to Somerville next month in the form of the Somerville Tool Library. It’s a place where residents of Somerville and the surrounding communities can borrow tools, like drills, saws or screw guns, for a small yearly membership fee.

Longtime Somerville resident and theater technician Dina Gjertsen is the primary organizer behind the Somerville Tool Library. While Gjertsen owns a lot of tools, she was was stymied while trying to complete a project building raised beds because she lacked a chop saw.

“I have a lot of tools in my basement that I use maybe once a year,” Gjertsen said. Instead of buying the new saw, she hoped to borrow one. “I wanted to join a tool library.”

Somerville Tool Library Somerville

Since one didn’t exist in the area, which came as a surprise to Gjertsen, she decided to make one herself. Somerville, a dense city where people have small living spaces, seemed like the perfect candidate for such a venture.

“People don’t need to own a drill, they need access to a drill,” Gjertsen said. “It fits in with the Somerville ethos.”

Unlike maker spaces like Somerville’s Artisan’s Asylum, the Somerville Tool Library will primarily be a place where people can check out tools and bring them home to work on projects large or small. Currently housed at Parts and Crafts (577 Somerville Ave.), the Somerville Tool Library will have limited space for small projects.

“We would love to have some bigger items,” Gjertsen said. “Right now we’re focusing on things that fit in the trunks of people’s cars.”

Somerville Tool Library Librarians

Anyone over 18 who pays the $50 yearly membership fee can use the Somerville Tool Library and Gjertsen thinks it will appeal to many demographics–homeowners, artists, people who like to work on projects, students, people who move a lot and people without the means to own tools of their own.

Tool Library members will be able to borrow up to seven tools and the requisite safety equipment per week. While the library won’t have workshops just yet, someone will be on hand to explain the tools if needed.

“People love the idea,” Gjertsen said of the response so far. She expects memberships to pick up once the Tool Library officially opens on February 7.

To celebrate the opening, the Somerville Tool Library will host an Anachronistic Audio Repair Project event on February 7 from noon-4 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring old boom boxes, cassette players and other similar items to take apart, repair and upcycle. In addition to sharing tools, Gjertsen is passionate about fixing things rather than throwing them out when they break. She organized the Fixer Fair back in the summer.

“I love repair events,” Gjertsen said. “I have an unrealized dream of a community repair shop. A lot of the garbage that ends up on the street isn’t garbage.”

Somerville Tool Library Tools

In addition to members, the Tool Library is currently seeking more tools and volunteers. “We prefer to use tools that are being unused,” Gjertsen said, noting the positive environmental impact of sharing resources. Gjertsen is eager to find more volunteers to help staff the Tool Library or run things like tool training sessions.

“If people want to see this happen, take the leap of faith and we’ll make it happen,” Gjertsen said.

That shouldn’t be a hard sell in a place like Somerville.

“I’m really committed to this area,” Gjertsen said. “I feel pretty strongly about keeping Somerville weird.”

Images courtesy of the Somerville Tool Library.

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