The Minnesota Tool Library is a member-based, volunteer-driven nonprofit that offers our community Access Over Ownership. We believe you don’t need to own costly tools that clutter cupboards, basements and garages... it's a waste of space, money, and resources that could be better utilized by building in community. Instead MTL Members enjoy consistent, low-cost access to the tools we need, through our shared library. It's as simple as checking out a book - and our inventory is vast! Moreover, we engage eachother to expand our collective skill set - offering both formal classes and informal mentoring and project advice. Everyone from novice to skilled craftsperson is welcome - we'll help you along the way. Whether you're looking to tackle some home-improvement tasks, enjoy a hobby, build a business, or try that DIY/Pinterest project - we have the tools and shop space to set your dreams free.
Mission, Vision, and Values
The Minnesota Tool Library’s mission is to cultivate a more resilient and equitable community and reduce waste by empowering residents with access to tools, training, and workspaces.
The Minnesota Tool Library envisions a vibrant and resilient community where:
- We reduce waste and unnecessary consumption of resources;
- Community members are more connected and reliant on each other;
- Resources and knowledge are shared equitably so that people have access to what they need through a robust city-wide sharing economy;
- Community members have inspirational spaces to collaborate on creative projects;
- Everyone is empowered to use tools to Fix Your Stuff and Fix the World; and
- Individuals and the larger community can withstand environmental and economic challenges.
Trustworthiness: We seek to offer technically proficient, competent services that community members can trust and rely on.
Inclusivity: We will strive to be approachable to people from all walks of life, check our assumptions that are based in privilege, and encourage diversity of age, gender identity, race, education, ability, and sexual orientation in both our members and decision makers.
Accountability: We will make every effort to follow through on our promises and measure outcomes.
Integrity: We will seek to apply our values consistently throughout our organization, going the extra mile to ensure that our actions align with our vision and mission.
Transparency: We will work to make our decision making processes transparent and make decisions using clear criteria rather than subjective judgments.
Community Building: We will be mindful of the impacts of our work beyond our organization. We will make decisions that result in greater investment in our neighborhoods and increase economic equity.
Executive Director: Kate Hersey
Kate brings over 15 years of professional experience in the nonprofit sector to her role as Executive Director of the Minnesota Tool Library. She is influenced by her service as a VISTA, background teaching non-profit management & leadership development, years as a volunteer administrator, and experience capacity building through her private consulting practice.
A firm believer in the sharing economy, Kate thinks local organizations like the MN Tool Library have a unique opportunity to educate and empower, to connect neighbors (both literally and figuratively) in building community, and to impact our economic and environmental footprints.
Kate resides in the Como neighborhood of St. Paul where she lives in a fixer-upper with her husband and two tutu-wearing and tool-wielding toddlers. She’s no stranger to home improvement projects, basic carpentry, and crafty Pinterest pursuits.
After studying Geography, Spanish, and Sustainability at the University of Minnesota, Abby most recently served two AmeriCorps terms with the Minneapolis Central Library - where she facilitated job search and digital literacy programming. This experience informed her present-day interest in fostering accessible community spaces that promote collaboration, creativity, and education. As part of our SPTL Branch Management team, you'll find Abby donning her librarian hat and putting her tech and program development skills to good use. She credits her rural upbringing in Rice, MN, formative experiences in outdoor education and her undergraduate studies for her passion for sustainability and waste reduction.
Whether volunteering with Fireweed (Formerly Women's Woodshop) or doing in carpentry in the Carolinas, Bozena is always exploring her woodcraft. As a SPTL Branch Manager and Class Teacher at MTL, she shares that love of learning with our others in our community. She's especially interested in projects that continue to put tools into the hands of women and queer makers. A builder and farmer from the Minnesota river valley, Bozena credits her DIY approach to the wonderful farmers and mentors she's worked with. She can usually be found wandering in the woods, following the Mississippi, or playing fiddle with the twin cities collective RIVERRATS.
Isaac's been part of our SPTL Branch Management team since November 2019. He loves to hear about projects that members are undertaking - brainstorming and problems solving with them to find the right tools and approach for a specific task. Isaac enjoys the collaborative and creative atmosphere that the Tool Library fosters and seeing the hard work that members put into their projects pay off. When he's not at MTL you can find him building houses around the Twin Cities with Habitat, running along the Mississippi, or eating - he loves a good hot dog!
Thomas manages our NE MPLS Branch and is one of our organizations co-founders. After a 13 year stint on the West Coast in Portland, OR he moved back to the Midwest (he originally hails from Milwaukee, WI) and settled in NorthEast shortly thereafter. He has worked in the Waste Reduction field for nearly a decade, being employed in the recycling programs at both Portland State University and the City of Beaverton. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Community Development at Portland State and has several years of community building experience.
Thomas became interested in developing a tool library as a member of the North Portland Tool Library, witnessing the value in community building and waste reduction. He feels very fortunate to have combined forces with Co-founder, Zach Wefel, and gained the support of many talented and committed community members. In the near-term, he hopes the MTL can serve as a catalyst to further connect the many communities within the NE Minneapolis community. In the long-term, he hopes the tool library can become a “sharing hub” for many different materials and/or services, allowing us to view nearly all that we do through a lens of cooperative support.
Board of Directors
Zach is a Co-founder of the MTL and member of its Board of Directors. He grew up nearby in Andover, MN. Zach became the owner of a “not-new” home, started a year of repairs and grew weary of constantly tracking down the tools he needed. He saw that the tool library model was a popular way to address the consistent need for home improvement tools. While he was thinking on and off about the feasibility of starting a tool library, he met Thomas Ebert at a neighborhood meeting. Thomas had the same goal, and they partnered up. He stopped daydreaming and they started planning.
Zach brings his experience as a lawyer, small-business owner, and new homeowner to the table, along with a strong optimism for the effect the tool library will have upon its members and the community. He adds, “I’ve had the rewarding experience of starting a business, Wefel Law Firm, on my own, but there is something even more rewarding in starting a community resource, especially so when you get to work with talented and dedicated individuals. I’d like to thank the Windom Park neighborhood for providing us our initial funding, my fellow board members for volunteering their time and energy, and my co-founder and Vice President, Thomas Ebert, for simultaneously being a hard-nosed realist and an ambitious dreamer.”
President of the board of directors and resident of St. Paul's Frogtown-Midway neighborhood, Timothy came to the Twin Cities from a very small town in rural North Dakota to go to school at the University of Minnesota.
Timothy is passionate about empowerment and building resilient communities. Growing up in a small town, he saw first-hand how a community can come together to support families in need, and was raised seeing the value of volunteering firsthand. He remembers spending childhood evenings and weekends volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, Dollars for Scholars, and his municipal volunteer recycling program - WKRP.
While he had lots of DIY experience growing up, Timothy really got into carpentry when he and his wife bought a 1911 home, and he got into woodworking while building the display case for his younger brother's memorial flag. He found out about the Tool Library while building a playground for Northeast College Prep Charter School, and he is excited to partner with other organizations to develop vibrant, inspiring communities.
Lara began using the tool library as a new homeowner and beginning woodworker, and quickly found the selection of tools, the expertise of the staff and volunteers, and the moral support of the community to be incredibly valuable. In addition to her passion to share this important resource with others, Lara brings 10 years of non-profit management experience, an MBA with a concentration in finance, and experience as a board member for other non-profits to the tool library. Lara lives in St. Paul with her spouse, two cats, and a 90 pound lap dog. When not volunteering at the tool library, you can find her teaching Krav Maga, running, rock climbing, and daydreaming about her next building project.
Katheryn serves as the MTL’s Secretary and is one of the founding members of the St Paul branch. She serves on the St Paul Local Advisory Board and on the Outreach Committee. Katheryn has always supported the Tool Library. Even though she lives in St Paul Katheryn was an early member of the North East branch.
Katheryn decided in 2006 that she had had enough of the corporate world and quit her job at Wells Fargo to become a full time volunteer. She is on the local Leadership team for a worldwide organization called the Pachamama Alliance whose mission is to “bring forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on the planet”. She keeps herself busy with a wide variety of local activities to fulfill that audacious mission. Besides giving lots of time to the Tool Library she is involved in her neighborhood District Planning Council and she started the 2 acre 200+ Rice Street Gardens community garden where more than half the gardeners are recent immigrants from Southeast Asia
Katheryn is married and has 2 grown children who live in the Twin Cities (one is a member of the Tool Library). She is a member of St Mary’s Episcopal Church and is a counselor for one week at the Quest Youth Summer camp. She and her husband enjoy rock and ice climbing and are recent grandparents.
Ellen grew up in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2016. She became a member of the Minnesota Tool Library in 2017 as a renter and avid gardener looking to expand her toolset. As a board member, Ellen brings experience in communications, grantwriting, and volunteer engagement. When she's not in her garden, Ellen is a youthworker focused on creative writing and arts education. Ellen lives in St. Paul’s Union Park neighborhood and has an apple tree in her backyard.
Christina hails from Wisconsin, but has lived in the Twin Cities longer than anywhere else! Among other things, she is passionate about resource sharing, sustainability, and building community - which is what drew her to the MN Tool Library. Christina is also a librarian and project manager, previously working as a Technology Librarian in public libraries, and Research & Instruction Librarian in academic libraries. She is a film buff, and was the Programming Director of Bijou Cinema in the past. She loves to travel and is always interested in new and innovative ways resources are shared around the world, from Mexico and Chile to China and India.
Libby is originally from Iowa City, Iowa. Even with the occasional travel break, she has called Minneapolis home since 2015 after graduating from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Libby enjoys being outside, traveling, learning new things, and eating delicious food.
Between getting voluntold to help with (but secretly enjoying) her parent's house projects growing up, to having a master woodworker grandpa, and basically growing up in the Iowa City Public Library where her mom was a librarian; the tool library aligns with many parts of Libby's life. In 2019 Libby quickly realized the importance of having the right & sometimes prohibitively expensive tools to get a project done while converting a retired school bus into a tiny traveling home with her partner.
With a background in Accounting and a new found passion for power tools, she was delighted to discover that the Minnesota Tool Library was seeking a Volunteer Treasurer when the school bus travels ended. Passionate about being part of a resilient and connected community, Libby is excited to join the board to help fulfill the mission of the Minnesota Tool Library.
Kate Hersey, Executive Director