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.
Co-Founder & Branch Manager: Thomas Ebert
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.
Branch Manager: Dennis Walsh
Dennis is the Branch Manager for the St. Paul Tool Library more than at home in the Midwest, growing up in Cincinnati, OH and getting his undergraduate degree from Indiana University. After teaching middle school math in rural North Carolina, Dennis moved to the Twin Cities with his wife, who grew up in here. Dennis is passionate about education, community building, and hands-on learning. He was amazed to find a wealth of organizations in the Twin Cities that fulfill all of these passions and has been lucky enough to work for several of them, including the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa, Urban Boatbuilders, and the St. Paul Branch of the Minnesota Tool Library. Dennis first found out about the Tool Library during his first visit to the Minnesota State Fair and kept his eye on the organization as it expanded into St. Paul. He was excited to become part of such a wonderful community and education oriented organization in 2018. Now that he and his wife have bought a 1912 home, they will also be using the Tool Library, as well as keeping it running.
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 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.”
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.
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.
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 or at her job at College Possible, you can find her teaching Krav Maga, running, rock climbing, and daydreaming about her next building project.
Natalie is a Wisconsin native but proud St. Paulite, Natalie works in the historic preservation field, connecting homeowners with the resources they need to tackle rehab and repair projects on their own. Natalie brings to the MTL board experience developing education programs for both youth and adults. Outside of her 9-to-5, Natalie enjoys volunteering for preservation projects through HistoriCorps, co-leading a Twin Cities running group called November Project, learning about architecture, and writing about local history.
Ralph (R.D.) Lawton
RD has extensive experience in the tool trade over the past 15 years, having worked for Rockler, Acme Tools and currently with DeWalt. His experience in the industry will provide great opportunities to ensure the libraries’ resources are maintained for the benefit of the members. He has been a Twin Cities resident for the past 35 years. R.D. believes the Tool Library is an excellent example of building better neighborhoods and boosting interactions across neighborhoods.
Thomas Ebert, Director