Tool lending is a relatively new phenomenon in the world of libraries. Instead of loaning books, libraries with tool collections lend kitchen and yard tools to ambitious do-it-yourselfers. These tools can be used to tackle home projects or do seasonal cleanup without burdening borrowers with concerns about cost or storage. As these libraries gain popularity and begin to expand in the U.S., it is worth taking a look at their origins. As it is presented in the current literature, tool libraries began in 1979 with the founding of the Berkeley Tool-Lending Library (BTLL). Information unearthed from newspaper clippings, blog posts, and websites, however, support the existence of a much earlier tool library in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Based on this finding, the paper will present a revised timeline that puts the birth of tool libraries in the 1940s. In doing so, the paper will correct the existing narrative of these unique libraries and firmly establish Grosse Pointe Library—not the BTLL—as the first of its kind.

About Author

Samantha Hamilton (she/her) is a San José State University alumna who graduated with her master’s in library and information science (MLIS) in May 2021. She is currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, where she is studying environmental sciences and policy to further her aspirations of becoming an environmental librarian/archivist. Her research interests include sustainable professional practices in information settings as well as the history of sustainable library initiatives like tool lending. Outside of the classroom, Samantha enjoys engaging in species conservation efforts and birdwatching in her hometown of Las Vegas.