The Minnesota Tool Library is a cooperative, volunteer-driven nonprofit that offers our community Access Over Ownership. We believe you don’t need to privately 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 we share tools and trade skills with one another to empower eachother and help create a more resilient and equitable community. MTL'ers enjoy low-cost access to the tools we need to repair and maintain our homes, build our businesses, and invest in our communties, by borrowing items from 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 Pinterest project - we have the tools, shared space, and support to help make your DIY dreams a reality.
Mission, Vision, and Values
To empower each other, reduce waste and improve communities by sharing tools, trade skills, and shop space.
The Minnesota Tool Library envisions a vibrant and resilient community where:
- We reduce waste and unnecessary consumption of resources;
- Community members are more connected to each other;
- Resources and knowledge are shared equitably;
- Community members have inspirational spaces to collaborate on creative projects;
- Everyone is empowered to use tools to Fix Your Stuff and Fix the World;
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.
Kate Hersey, Executive Director
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 Mini MTL'ers. She’s no stranger to home improvement projects, basic carpentry, and crafty Pinterest pursuits.
Thomas manages our NEMTL 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. He worked in the Waste Reduction field for nearly a decade, in the recycling programs at 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 under his belt.
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 MTL can serve as a catalyst to further connect the many neighborhoods 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.
Robert (Bob) is a Minnesota native, but has lived and worked all around the country as an applied physicist (his background is in engineering and acoustics) and professor. He's very handy with appliance and tool repair, computers/electronics, and 3D printing in addition to home maintenance tasks. Bob enjoys volunteer work and has been a consistent presence at our Fix-It Friday shop hours; he also shares his time and talents as a docent and demonstrator with the Bakken Museum, reviewing and editing technical papers, repairing just about everything under the sun at Hennepin and Ramsey County fix-it clinics, and teaching science to homeschoolers.
Robert's focus for the tool library is providing highly-usable space and tools for our members so they can get their projects done - and advancing their knowledge to do it efficiently, safely, and cost-effectively. When not behind the counter, you can likely find him patching up tools in the repair lairs at both MTL branches or organizing our Community Fix-Ins.
Mark has lived in the Twin Cities for over 45 years, is semi-retired, and now gardens and maintains his home in Saint Paul, where he joins us as a Branch Manager for SPTL. The vast majority of his working life has been involved in making things - from fine jewelry to furniture, from orthotics to kitchen products, and from tomatoes to flowers. He owned and operated a fine jewelry store, custom designing gold and gemstone heirlooms for 13 years; and he curently utilizes discarded trees and solar power to make utilitarian and customizable wood products for his Etsy shop, SolarTreeGoods.com. Throughout his working life, a good tool for the job, plus safe and efficient use has always provided pleasure to his work.
Hobby-wise, Mark enjoys laughing at his attempts at playing the cello and will indulge in low stakes poker- but he’s clearly never going to make a career in either field! He volunteers with the Humanists of MN moderated discussion groups and book clubs, and served on their board of directors for 7 years. Mark’s very happy to combine his advocacy and commitment to sustainable and cooperative ventures at the MN Tool Library.
Lured by the promise of mild winters, Tim moved to the Twin Cities from Texas after a career in theater as a technical director, lighting designer and educator. Not quite ready to forever hang up the old tool belt, he bought a 100 year old house in St.Paul guaranteeing the need for continued access to a wide variety of tools. Tim was happy to discover the SPTL branch near his house and spent a year of service as MTL's VISTA, strengthening volunteer engagement practices. Now he serves as our Operations Coordinator - supporting Branch admin and special projects to make a meaningful impact on the long term sustainability of this "amazing community resource".
When not at MTL, Tim is an aspiring long distance hiker and recently walked from the Arizona/Utah border to Flagstaff on the Arizona Trail. Even though he now owns a pair of snowshoes, he looks forward to exploring the Superior Hiking Trail and Boundary Waters area once the snow melts.
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.”
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.
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.
The daughter of a retired Contractor, LeAnn has been blessed with almost always having the knowledge and tools needed for any project. This has made her popular with friends, neighbors, and coworkers; but crowded her small home with tools used only now and then by others, more than herself. When she discovered her Dad had even more tools in a storage shed in Northern MN, she reached out to MTL with the dream of starting a new branch.
Born in Racine, WI and transplanted at the age of 7 to a small town in Northern MN, Leanne has always had a strong sense of community. This was reinforced when she joined the U of MN and worked in the Gopher Athletic Department to help pay her way through college; and now she's an all-around team player for the tool library. After completing her degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, LeAnn eventually purchased a home in South Minneapolis that was built in 1927 and in need of some love. Luckily she already had some DIY experience from college renovating a home in Dinkytown, and all she learned growing up as her Dad’s shadow. The tool library combines LeAnne's love of the environment with her passion for volunteering - and allows her to share the knowledge and resources she's fortunate to have access to with others.
Nate was first introduced to the Tool Library in 2017 when he and his wife started renovating their 1947 home in West St Paul. Needing an obscure tool he was never going to use again, he heard about the Tool Library and fell in love with the concept of access over ownership and became a member. Nate learned a lot from his 70-year-old house and gained a passion for DIY and home improvement.
Other than 4 years at the UW-Madison, Nate is a lifelong Twin Cities resident. He has worked in finance for over 10 years at both for-profit and non-profit organizations, and is excited to share his work experience and personal DIY experience to continue the mission and vibrant community of the MN Tool Library.
Kate Hersey, Executive Director