One in a continuing series of clippings and stories about tool libraries, this one from a 2005 Berkeley Daily Planet:
On a recent Wednesday morning at 11:45, two pickup trucks and a station wagon had already pulled into the drive in front of the Berkeley Tool Lending Library at the corner of Russell and Martin Luther King Way.
Adam Broner, who maintains the library, and Bud Burleson, a retired city electrician who is filling in that day, wheeled out several containers holding an assortment of shovels, posthole diggers and other garden tools. On the wall Burleson hung the pole saws and below them he arranged several aluminum step ladders.
When Broner opened the two doors to the library, another busy day began. Some patrons came in returning tools, others were checking them out. Broner checked library cards and IDs while answering the phone that never seemed to stop ringing. Burleson tried to find a minute to attend to the ongoing job of sharpening a few tools.
Even though folks are often lined up several deep, Broner, who has been working at the tool library for 14 years, manages to be full of good humor and ready to dispense advice.
“This time of year, our garden tools are most in demand. In fact, I’m going to order some new weed eaters. We just can’t keep up with the demand,” he said.
There was a 2004 NY Times story - Library Science, Home Depot Style - here picked up at Sivacracy:
On a sunny Saturday this fall, patrons were lined up four deep at a public library branch in Berkeley, Calif. But they weren't there to check out best-sellers or a stack of videos.
"I'm returning the chop saw and a spade and a wheelbarrow I already put back in the shed," said a young woman in shorts and a T-shirt, hefting the saw onto the counter.
"You owe 20 bucks in fines," said a librarian, Jason Armstrong, whose wire-frame glasses fit the bookworm stereotype but whose chest tattoo suggested a less cerebral side. "Fifteen bucks for the chop saw and five bucks for the wheelbarrow."
Such is a typical exchange at the Berkeley Tool Lending Library, a branch of the library system started with a $30,000 federal community development block grant in 1979. Since then the budget has grown more than three-fold, and borrowers number in the thousands.
Beth Kohn in the San Francisco Bay Guardian has a bit more:
Berkeley and Oakland have made tool-lending services available through their public library systems. In 1979 the Berkeley Public Library started the Berkeley Tool-Lending Library (1901 Russell, Berk. 510-981-6101, www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/tool), the first of its kind in the Bay Area, with a grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program still functions as part of the public library and continues to maintain personal relationships with the people borrowing its cement mixers and Sawzalls, even with an estimated checkout rate of 6,000 tools a month. "[It's] different than when someone checks out a book," tool-lending specialist Adam Broner says. "Someone's drain is clogged, or they need to do something before their mother comes to visit. Each tool has a story behind it."
The Berkeley library has served as an example for fledgling tool-lending libraries in other towns. Broner trained a colleague to establish a library in Portland, Ore., and at the invitation of the Berkeley Rotary Club, he gathered a collection of donated tools and set up a library in the small town of Chacala, Mexico.