SW Portland Tool Library project

Wikipedia: what is a Tool Library?

Project Goal:

To set up a tool library in the SW Portland quadrant, similar to those in other quadrants of the city, that will provide SW Portland residents access to tools. In addition, this library will also seek to serve Downtown, NW and South Portland residents.

A site for the library and volunteer time are immediate needs.

This page is currently a placeholder, but will collect information on the project, and we will hopefully improve the content as the project progresses. Volunteering to improve the web content and branding is clearly an immediate need...

Project Resources:

Objectives: Leaflet Business Plan
Google Group: https://groups.google.com/g/sw-portland-tool-library
Info Email: info at swptl.org
Next meeting: 6:30pm December 13th, Zoom online meeting

Links to Portland tool libraries that serve other areas

North Portland Tool Library
Northeast Portland Tool Library
Southeast Portland Tool Library
Green Lents Tool Library
Clackamas County Library of Things
Washington County (Beaverton) Library of Things - other Washington County libraries have similar offerings

Previous and similar current projects

Previous SW Portland effort from 2012
Watershed Resource Center - with Tool Request Form (Multnomah Arts Center)
There is an effort in further Southwest ("Fanno Creek Tool Library") that intends to serve zip codes: 97219, 97223, 97225.


A small group of interested individuals met September 20th, 2018 at Lucky Lab SW to review an initial list of parameters (such as boundaries), discuss possible locations and other items suggested on a Nextdoor thread, and set communication cadence. The items discussed are listed below by topic.

Area: Tool libraries should have a defined and limited area to manage inventory and limit travel time to the library, but include a sufficient number of interested users to support the library. This could just be SW Portland, but the Downtown and NW/S areas are sufficiently small and close-in to be included.
Calling the library SW Portland (rather than West) will allow a NW or Downtown library to be established if there is interest at a later date. In addition we believe including the unincorporated areas between West Portland and the suburbs should also be possible, but we will have to see if any contract will be partial to ending at the city/county boundary instead.

Current location under discussion is the West side of Bertha Viaduct

Other Location suggestions: (Two Portland tool libraries are in church space, a third is in a community building, the fourth is in a Prosper Portland building)

Location desires:

Hours: Likely will be driven by volunteers available, but proposing 6-8pm Tuesday and 9am-2pm Saturday, which is similar to the other Portland tool libraries. It was noted that the Seattle Tool Library is open Friday night and Sunday as well, to allow tools to have more than one lease over the weekend.

501c(3): Tentative offer from SW Trails org (pending proposal details/board approval) to be sponsor to bootstrap SW Portland Tool Library for a small percentage of donations to cover overhead. There was also interest in storing and perhaps lending the SW Trails tools.
In speaking with the NEPTL they started with a similar arrangement initially out of a neighborhood organization, and did not have their own 501c(3) until 2018.
Establishing a 501c(3) or sponsor relationship early will be important for grants or to accept cash and tool donations.

Finance notes:

Consumables: Interest in how other libraries deal with this. Discussion on options, handy to make some available, but need to set cost. Cheap safety gear (glasses, masks, gloves?) would encourage safe tool use.

Sponsors (possible): Aboy, Parr Lumber, Other (non-tool oriented) businesses (Lucky Lab?)

Software: Tool Librarian would have us share hosting cost for SaaS ~$71. Concerns about long-term maintenance of software and arrangement, but otherwise price and features are fair. In use by NE/SE/Green Lents libraries. No tool reservations in the software. Seattle Tool Library has 2hr reservation to allow users commute time to pick up tools.
Commercial SaaS equivalent: MyTurn (in use by NPTL and Portland's KitchenShare.org)
Possible open source software to base a solution on: Koha

Tools: Set up poll on Nextdoor for next round of interest.
Policy (as with NEPTL) no commercial use and no gas/explosive/hazardous chemicals.
Donations of tools expected.
Request for bike repair tools, auto tools common library items as well.

Outreach: Southwest Connection, Farmer's Market

Miscellaneous: At later date site will require shelving/labels/desk/chair/computer.
Swag/branding: business cards, sponsor shirts, etc. (advertising - sell or giveaway)

Items/info from discussion with NEPTL board

11/15/2022 Zoom Online Meeting

Meeting notes from older meetings are available here

Next steps: