News / Halifax

Halifax Tool Library opens new space for growing community

“It's really satisfying to have a place where I think people will enjoy spending time – both our members and volunteers.”

Tristan Cleveland was one of the founders of the Halifax Tool Library.

Rebecca dingwell / Metro Order this photo

Tristan Cleveland was one of the founders of the Halifax Tool Library.

Colleen Gosse feels it’s “empowering” for people to learn how to build and fix things on their own.

As a volunteer for the Halifax Tool Library, Gosse has seen experienced handyworkers as well as folks who have never picked up a tool.

“(They will) find a tutorial online and maybe need a sander or a saw – something they don’t have at home,” said Gosse, adding that people are sometimes nervous when they first get the tools.

“Then they’ll come back afterwards and show us some pictures of something really cool that they hadn’t thought they could do before.”

Located in the Metro Self-Storage building on Almon street, the Halifax Tool Library was the fourth of its kind to open in the country. Since October 2014, the library has offered access to a variety of tools for a yearly fee. It is entirely volunteer-run and builds up its collection of tools by donation.

On Saturday, volunteers opened the doors to a larger space. Although its in the same building and not far from its first home, Gosse said the additional 133 square feet will make a big difference.

The Halifax Tool library, located in the North end, has about 900 tools available for members to use.

rebecca dingwell / for Metro

The Halifax Tool library, located in the North end, has about 900 tools available for members to use.

“It was a lot harder in the smaller space to have two volunteers,” she said.

Tristan Cleveland, one of the library’s founders, agrees.

“Its really satisfying to have a place where I think people will enjoy spending time – both our members and volunteers.”

Cleveland said the original idea for the library stemmed from a combination of things. For instance, Cleveland had a desire to create a good volunteer opportunity, while a co-founder noticed it was difficult to obtain tools for his community projects.

“We know all those tools are sitting in people’s basements, so let’s put them in a place where people who are working on great projects can get them,” said Cleveland.

Right now, the volunteers are “sending out the bat signal” for tool experts to come help out.

“We need to fix tools, we need to teach people how to use tools (and) we need to inventory tools accurately,” said Cleveland.

The library has typically been open three times a week, including evenings dedicated to women and transgender people on Tuesdays.

“There are barriers for different people,” said Gosse. “We just want to reduce as many barriers as possible.”

In addition, membership fees are negotiable to those who can’t afford it. People may also put in a certain amount of volunteer work in order to get a membership.

Cities outside the Halifax area have benefitted as well. Cleveland said they have communicated with people looking to get tool libraries off the ground in locations such as Ottawa, Victoria and even Detroit.

“We’re all wealthier when we share our common resources,” he said. 

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