Need a tool for that home improvement project? There’s a tool library in Buffalo for that


How often do you need a tool for a project, but don’t have it at home? A non-profit in Buffalo has a solution for that.

The Tool Library, on W. Northrup Place, lets you borrow tools for just $20 a year.

“That literally gets them access to everything they see,” Darren Cotton said, the founder of The Tool Library. “For me, one of the most exciting things is when people’s eyes kind of light up because they’re thinking about all the different projects they can do now.”

You can find tools there as small as screwdrivers to fix your glasses, to as big as table saws and power washers. They have nearly every size wrench, as well as jigsaws, rakes, wheelbarrows and much more. 

Dareen Cotton started The Tool Library while he was in graduate school at UB. 

“Our landlord wasn’t really super responsive to our needs, and to issues in the apartment,” he said. 

So, he and his roommates tried their best to fix issues on their own. But they didn’t have the tools to do it, so Cotton started The Tool Library seven years ago. 

“I would say about 75 percent of the tools in here have been donated,” he said. “The average power drill is used 12 minutes over its lifetime, and so the goal of The Tool Library, and this sharing economy model, is to get these tools out of closets and out of basements, and into the hands of people who will use them.”

Brandon Redmond is there quite a bit. He’s the program coordinator for ‘A Community Classroom,’ which is a UB program that teaches young people how to solve neighborhood problems. He rents tool monthly for beautification projects in the city, mainly in the Fruit Belt. 

“We have the manpower and volunteers, but without the tools, we wouldn’t be able to do as much as we’re able to,” Redmond said. 

For that $20 a year, members can rent up to 10 tools at a time. For larger groups, like Redmond, who want to take out more tools, it’s a slightly higher annual fee.

And Darren and other volunteers at The Tool Library have made it their mission as well to better the community with their library of items. 

“In 2014, we set a goal of planting 1,000 trees across University District, working with a number of partners,” Cotton said. “And I’m happy to say today we’re at 1,350 trees.”

Along with all the trees they’ve planted, they do other service projects, like street clean-ups and garden workdays. 

“Once the nice weather arrives, it’s pretty much every Saturday,” he said. “It’s always weird when I wake up on a Saturday and I don’t have something to go do. It’s like, ‘oh no, what am I missing?'”

Everyone who works at The Tool Library is a volunteer, including Cotton. The money that comes in is used to pay rent and to replace broken tools. Cotton said they will be looking for a bigger space they can buy in the coming year. 

For more information on how to join The Tool Library, click here. And for more information on getting involved in their community service projects, click here. 

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