The Minnesota Tool Library offers the community access over ownership. This means we don’t need to own costly tools for a one-time use, but instead allows consistent, low-cost access to the tools we need, when we need them.
Moreover, we engage the community to expand its collective skill set, helping each other to learn which tools to use for meaningful projects…and re-connect with each other while doing it.
Mission, Values, and Vision
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.
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 community and increase economic equity.
The Minnesota Tool Library envisions a vibrant and resilient city 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 and improve the quality of their homes; and
- Individuals and the larger community can withstand environmental and economic challenges.
How does the Tool Library Work?
The Minnesota Tool Library makes available a large inventory of tools that members can check out for up to one (1) week. In order to become a member, one must:
- Pay the $55 annual fee
- Sign a liability waiver
- Review and agree to our tool safety protocol
Members are asked to return tools in a timely manner and will be assessed a late fee for any tools not returned to the library on the stated due date. Members are asked for prompt payment of any late fees and are required to make a minimum payment for fees accumulating over $5.
Members that return tools in unrepairable condition through obvious neglect for proper tool maintenance (or do not return altogether) will be asked to pay the full replacement value of the tool. If damaged through the normal wear and tear of the tool, a determination for replacement options will be made.
The Nuts and Bolts
The Minnesota Tool Library is incorporated with the State of Minnesota and is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
We have a Board of Directors who oversees the tool library’s finance, education programming, community outreach and tool inventory. We also have a staff member (Director) who oversees the day-to-day operations of the tool library space and uses.
Volunteers are a vital part of this organization. As much as we benefit from the time, effort and dedication of our volunteers, we are equally hopeful that they find a similar benefit in the skills they learn, the experiences they share and the community connections they make.
Seed money to initiate the tool library was granted by the Windom Park Citizen in Action (WPCiA), using its Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) funds. We are tremendously grateful to the WPCiA board of directors and community leadership as a whole.
Board of Directors
The Minnesota Tool Library is a non-profit organization with a seven-person Board of Directors. They are as follows:
Zach is a Co-founder of the MTL and President 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 prevalent 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.”
Thomas is a Co-Founder, Board Vice President, and Director of the MTL. He is from Milwaukee, WI and lived in Portland, OR for 13 years. He has worked in the Waste Reduction field for nearly a decade, being employed in the recycling programs at both the 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. He moved back to the Midwest in 2013 and settled in NE Minneapolis shortly thereafter.
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.
Maria Wardoku is a founding board member of the MN Tool Library and is proud of the work the Tool Library does to build community and promote the sharing economy. She brings a background in non-profit management and grant writing, and supports finance, fundraising, and strategic planning for the Tool Library. She currently works as a transportation planner focusing on biking and walking, and has lived with her husband in the Logan Park neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis since 2014.
Carolyn chairs the Membership Committee and sits on the Programming Committee. A native of St Paul, Carolyn currently resides in south Minneapolis, where she spends much of her time avoiding home remodeling projects. She works in the waste and recycling industry and supports the growth of the sharing economy as a means to reducing consumption and waste.
Alexander sits on the Programming and Membership Committees. A proper native of Minnesota, he grew up eating lutefisk and reeling in eelpout from lakeholes. After stints in upstate New York and Los Angeles for college, he currently resides in Minneapolis.
He has over ten years of experience as an independent contractor in painting, landscaping and home repair and loves the sense of accomplishment found in home renovation. He is excited to develop, organize and teach a regular schedule of affordable home repair classes and creative workshops that our members and the wider community demand.Alexander hopes that the Tool Library can serve as a tool of economic empowerment towards home ownership and a gateway for the pride and independence instilled by the creation and maintenance of everyday objects.
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.
Soon we will offer PDF documents, videos, and other files for use media use. Please do not hesistate to contact us if you have immediate needs or questions. We’re happy to help. Thanks!
Thomas Ebert, Director