Denver Tool Library Helps You Build a Better Life (or Maybe Just a Really Cool Bookshelf)

Denver Tool Library

For a $7/month membership fee, Denver Tool Library gives you access to more than 2,000 tools and, perhaps more important, a community.

Over the past year I’ve been on a mission to purge our home of all unnecessary items, to declutter and pare us down to only the things we actually use. No easy task with two kids, this is definitely still a work in progress. But, through this experience I am learning that sometimes you really do need something, but perhaps only for a little while — which is why I love the idea of community sharing programs like the Denver Tool Library.

A few days away from their 1-year anniversary, Denver Tool Library launched last spring after a successful crowdfunding campaign with a simple mission: To put tools in the hands of the inspired DIY makers and do-ers in Denver. For an $80 annual membership (or less than $7/month), you can access more than 2,000 tools, with each tool checked out for four days at a time (and renewed for longer if needed).

As I approach the Denver Tool Library, a small crowd is gathered in front of the entrance off the alley. A chalkboard announces that today the library is open, one of four days that it is. A hand-lettered banner hangs above the garage-door style opening, and I can see numbered tools lining the wall and shelves inside.

The atmosphere feels very much like a community endeavor, a bit like I wandered into my neighbor’s yard. It occurs to me that perhaps the community aspect — the advice-sharing, tool recommendations, even humble brags about completed projects — is even more important than the actual tools.

People are milling about, discussing projects, looking at tools. Someone is even grilling. People smile at me, welcoming. I cannot easily tell who is “working” there and who is just hanging out, as everyone seems eager to help. I get the impression if I were to ask “How do I build a ____?” I would get one or two individuals patiently walking me through the laborious process and directing me to the tools I would need.

I expected to feel a little intimidated by both the tools and those who frequent the library, the DIYers and do-ers who, in my mind, clearly belonged there more than I did. After all, I am not someone who knows my way around tools outside of the very obvious hammer and screwdriver. And, I was a little intimidated by the tools, but not the people. Instead I found myself inspired by the energy and the friendly community.

The organization actually promotes “success in failure” as one of its key values, offering “free high-fives for anyone whose projects don’t end up the way they expected, and the encouragement and support to continue.” I love this.

Before visiting, I perused the Denver Tool Library project blog, which features some of the projects community members have completed. I had admired a Little Free Library. I’ve always wanted a Little Free Library, I think as I walk through the tool aisles. Or maybe I can finally really get our yard into shape. Hmm.

As I leave, I marvel at what a fantastic resource the Denver Tool Library is, as much for the community and inspiration as for the tools.

Want to learn more? Denver Tool Library is inviting the public to celebrate their 1-year anniversary on April 1 (also First Friday) at Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center with live music. You can also learn more about the tool library, win tools or a membership, and screen-print your very own Denver Tool Library t-shirt.

Denver Tool Library is located at 555 Santa Fe Drive (entrance in the back alley) and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays (3pm to 7pm) and Saturdays and Sundays (10am to 2pm). The tool inventory includes gardening and landscaping, woodworking, electrical, metalworking, bike tools (in-house only) and more. A complete list of available tools can be viewed here.

What would you build if only you had the right tools?

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