Members of eight tool libraries from around the area gathered on Vashon last weekend to share ideas.
The event, which met at Mukai Farm & Garden, was hosted by the Vashon Tool Library and was the first gathering of its kind, organizers said.
VashonBePrepared was a partner in the event. Michael Sperazza, a volunteer with both the tool library and VashonBePrepared‚ gave the keynote speech addressing the theme of the conference: The Role of Tool Libraries in Emergency Response.
The Vashon Tool Library has spent the last year acquiring and integrating a tool collection tailored to emergency response situations. Sperazza said Vashon’s Tool Library was the only one among the groups present that has emergency preparedness as an area of focus.
“We as a community are much more aware of our vulnerability because we are an island,” he said.
The equipment the group has gathered is for residential needs, Sperazza said, not emergency responders. This goal — to help islanders deal with emergency needs — is an outgrowth of the tool library’s first mission: to reduce not only waste, but the number of tools bought and just sitting idle, rarely used.
Islander Steve Graham, a fellow organizer of the event, said the tool libraries had many issues in common as they work to share tools in their communities. He cited the high costs of space, volunteer and member recruitment and training, and managing tool inventory effectively as some of the common issues, along with maintenance and repair of tools and equipment.
Graham noted that many good suggestions came out of the day. One of those suggestions, Sperazza said, was tool libraries banding together and buying items they all need, such as batteries, in bulk. Sharing among libraries, just as book libraries do, was also suggested.
The Vashon Tool Library is currently looking for more space, Sperazza noted. It has had two sheds donated, but only has room for one. The group is also looking for people interested in its mission, including volunteers to help with customer service and those who are adept at tool repair.
“If we can repair them and keep them going, it delays the end of their life cycle,” he said.
For more information, see vashontools.org.
— Susan Riemer