Tool library big help for community

WEST PHILADELPHIA - August 22, 2009 People come here to borrow a hammer, a saw, or even power tools.

It's the West Philly Tool Library at 46th Street and Woodland Avenue.

"We have hand tools and everything up to larger power tools," Eric Rivera of the library said.

The shelves are stocked with 1,600 tools that were donated or purchased with grant money. For $20 per year, the library's more than 400 members can borrow them.

This morning, a member returned loaner tools to he got last week.

"There are float tools for smoothing out cement, I'm refinishing my basement floor," member John Stylianou said.

The tools are used for everything from light handy work to full scale renovation and just two weeks ago, volunteers used 100 loaner tools to build a playground at 47th & Sansom.

Alyce Miller borrowed a tree trimmer to cut back high branches.

A 40 foot ladder is next on her list to shore up bricks on her 3-story rowhome.

"I'm a tool user. That's why I'm so thankful I can come around here and get their tools, a lot of tools I don't have in my home," Miller said.

The West Philly Tool Library is one of around 20 or 30 across the country. The oldest dates back about 30 years. Members love the financial flexibility borrowing tools affords them.

"Especially I have a big old house we renovated so you don't have to buy every tool that you need to use once. It's been convenient and they have so many tools in here," member Gloria Prusakowski said.

The 8-foot ladder and pipe wrench Gloria borrowed were among the half dozen borrowed tools she's used this year that could cost hundreds to buy or rent.

"You might need a large expensive tool once and you don't want to drop $300 for that. So the idea is you can use it once for what you need then someone else in the community can use it," Rivera said.

The library also offers how to books, classes and advice. It's a tool cooperative that saves dollars and makes sense in tough economic times.

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