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Tool library to become not-for-profit corporation

Time to take the next steps on our own, says library coordinator
GuelphToday file photo shows Susan Carey, co-founder of Transition Guelph's Tool Library, standing amidst the tools and cooking items for rent. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday
The Guelph Tool Library is pleased to announce that it is becoming an incorporated not-for-profit organization commencing Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. The project began in August 2016 and has expanded to a full service tool library with over 375 members, 700 plus tools and appliances in inventory, and nearly 4,000 loans completed.

The Guelph Tool Library began as a project of Transition Guelph and started from a need identified through the work of Susan Carey and Transition Guelph’s Urban Food Working Group.

Carey found that with these projects, she was helping people to grow and harvest food but that many of the tools and appliances were out of reach for new gardeners or those with limited resources. She says that the idea “was to provide a community resource that was easily accessible, had a good selection of appliances and tools, and affordable.”

Carey founded the Guelph Tool Library with John Dennis and Saba Saneinejad.

The project began modestly and grew through the support of our members, volunteers, and the community. Grants and support from our partners, the City of Guelph, the Province, and the Federal Government have allowed the Guelph Tool Library to grow.

The Guelph Tool Library is now open five days a week and averaging over 100 loans per week.

Dennis says that “we knew we were onto something as everyone we told about the Guelph Tool Library thought it was a great idea and had ideas on what we should acquire for our inventory.”

Critical to the growth of the Guelph Tool Library has been the bi-monthly Repair Café Guelph organized by Saba Saneinejad. Saneinejad brought the idea of the Repair Café from Toronto and ran the first Repair Café in August 2016.

She says, “I loved the idea of fixing and repairing broken and damaged items that would normally just be thrown away. There are many talented people in Guelph who we have been fortunate to have as volunteers at the Repair Cafés. In addition to fixing the items visitors bring, they teach them basic repairing skills. Repair Cafés are fun days involving fixing things, building a community and protecting our environment.”  

Since the beginning, the Repair Café Guelph has served over 1,000 people and diverted over 3,000 kilograms of waste from the landfill.

Focusing on the idea of repairing, repurposing, and waste reduction has become the central theme of the Guelph Tool Library.

Led by Zero Waste Coordinator, Stephanie Clarke, the Guelph Tool Library has been running a series of classes focusing on zero waste. Supported through an Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant, the programming will culminate with a Zero Waste Festival on Saturday, Aug. 10 at the Victoria Road Recreation Centre.  

Clarke says, “Since September, we have been running a workshop series that allows participants to cut down on waste and creatively reuse everyday items, all while learning about how waste is processed in our city and beyond. Our programming provides the community a chance to actively participate in the recycling and reusing process, and demonstrate the importance of careful consumerism.”

The Guelph Seed Library which is housed at the Guelph Tool Library will be part of the new organization. Started by Lisa Conroy in 2018, the Guelph Seed Library is a collection of mostly locally grown seeds where anyone can “borrow” seeds for free. The goal being to grow the plants and return a similar quantity or more to give back to the seed library for the next year.

Conroy says, “The Seed Library is grateful for the support Transition Guelph gave us to start up and is looking forward to our ongoing partnership with the Guelph Tool Library.”

The Guelph Tool Library’s move away from Transition Guelph will allow it to work towards gaining charitable status while continuing to run new and innovative programming. 

Guelph Tool Library Coordinator Emily Duncan says that “Transition Guelph was critical for us as we started but we have reached a point where we need to take the next steps on our own. It will allow us to respond quicker to our members and decide the direction of the organization. We are excited about the possibilities that this presents and we look forward to continuing to serve Guelph through our programming.”



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