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Sunday, April 19, 2015
The Star.com: How-to books and tools to do the job: Soon, Downsview library will offer both
How-to books and tools to do the job: Soon, Downsview library will offer both
Downsview Public Library partners with the Toronto Tool Library to loan tools at a membership discount.
CHRIS SO / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
Ryan Dyment, executive director of the Toronto Tool Library, says he can't imagine a better partner for expanding the non-profit organization than the Toronto Public Library, which is providing space for a third location for the tool-lending group. Public library card holders can receive a $5 discount off the $50 membership fee and then take out tools as often as they want, for up to five days at a time.
Is your cupboard door broken? Do you have a wiggly chair? Well, now you can head to Downsview Public Library to take out a do-it-yourself book and a power tool to fix it.
The Toronto Tool Library announced a new partnership on Wednesday with the Toronto Public Library, which will allow it to lend tools out of the Downsview library branch.
The Toronto Tool Library, which opened in May 2013, has two branches. For a $50 annual membership fee, users can sign out tools up to five days at a time.
The partnership with the public library will provide a third location—on a one-year trial basis — to promote the tool library and increase membership.
The Star spoke with Ryan Dyment, the tool library’s executive director, to learn more.
How did this partnership begin?
This took us about nine months of negotiations — you know, back-room conversations — and then we finally came together. They sent out a lot of letters to their branches to find out whether or not they had space for us. We decided Downsview was the best one — it had the most space. The staff was fantastic. They had a space there, about 500 square feet … and we found a price we could negotiate, and just the other day we signed the lease. We are going to renovate and open up at the end of the month.
Why did you want to partner with Toronto Public Library?
They’re very innovative. When we launched two years ago, I think they heard about us and there was some discussion on their side. We had a bunch of people from the library come over to us and comment on how much they liked what we are doing. We are a small non-profit and we are looking to grow. Obviously, we want tools to be just as mainstream as books are … I think they are really open to new things at the library. They know that libraries have to change and evolve with the times, and given all their locations around the city there really is no better organization we would want to partner with. At the time when the library started, it was really revolutionary for people to access things for free, and that’s the dream for us: to be able to offer tools for free so people can just borrow instead of buy. Not to have price be a barrier to that.
What is involved in this partnership?
We are going to do promotions together. They want to be involved, so we are going to send out a more official press release next week. At this time it’s just us still having to charge $50 a year for our membership, because we still have to cover the staffing and administrative cost behind the project. (But the library) is allowing us to use their space, their brand, and to be associated with them, which is about all we can ask for, as a small organization. They haven’t worked with us in this capacity before. I think the best thing is to try for a year and see if people in the neighbourhood like it.
Do books and tools really work together?
They do. You have the do-it-yourself books and you’ve got the tools. There are all kinds of sections in the library that teach you how to do things. I think libraries are really community centres where people can access things … We call ourselves the tool library because there are a lot of tools out there, and a lot of people who use them aren’t professionals and don’t need tools every day, and just want access to them a few times.
What do Toronto Public Library users get?
If they show their library card, they get $5 off (membership).
When will it be open?
The grand opening party is April 30, but people won’t be able to borrow until Saturday, May 2.
What would be the best outcome at the end of the year?
Well, 150,000 people visit that branch every year. That’s a huge opportunity for us. We don’t get that many people in our branches combined right now. I have no idea what it will turn into, in terms of membership, but I know we will need between 500 and 1,000 members, if they all pay $45 a year as library members. We also (charge) late fees, … and we have workshops. We have an arrangement with (the library) where we host six workshops with them in the library, and then we will supplement that with some paid workshops depending on the demand.
How many members does the Toronto Tool Library have right now?
About 1,400 combined between our two locations.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.