Frequent Questions

How does the Tool Library Work?

The Basics

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 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.

How long can I borrow a tool?

Normal loan period is one week. Some tools have a shorter period in high demand times.

Can I renew a tool online?

Yes!  Log in to your account, select "Loans" from your account menu, click the "renew" button next to the tools you want to renew, then click "complete transaction" at the bottom of the screen.

Can I see if you own a certain tool?

Yes! Click the "Tool Inventory" link at the top of pretty much any page on our website.  Note the search accepts boolean operators.  There are many guides available online; here is one.

Can I tell if a tool is available right now?

Yes!  Look for the "In Stock Now" tag when viewing the tool.  If it says "due __/__/__," the tool is checked out and due back on that day.  If it says "unavailable," it's either being repaired or only for use in the shop.

Can I reserve a tool?

Yes! Make sure you are logged in to your account, find the tool in our inventory, click the "Reserve" button, and follow the instructions on-screen.  If you have reserved a tool that has a same-day return by the previous user, please call ahead to confirm its return before coming to pick the reservation.  Please understand that occasionally we are unable to provide the reserved tool because the previous user has yet to return it, or it is in need of repair. In this situation, we will do our best to provide an alternate solution for your project needs.

What about donations?

What kind of tools do you accept?

We are very grateful you are considering the Tool Library with your donation. We can assure you that the tools will go to great use in furthering our mission.   While we'd love to accept everything that comes our way, we need to be selective due to member needs, current inventory and space.  We are most interested in power tools (air compressors, nailers, drills, sanders, pressure washers, tillers, chain saws, etc) but are also happily accept most types of hand tools in very good condition (screwdrivers, wrenches, clamps, pliers, etc). Additionally, we accept other items like party tents, popcorn machines, yard/garden tools, sewing machines, shop vacs, and steam vacuums.

Our basic acceptance criteria are:
• tools are in working order
• battery tools be of recent age (5 years or less) with batteries holding a good charge and including chargers
• tools be of a modern vintage (for safety and maintenance reasons). Naturally, there are exceptions to these criteria as some high-quality tools needing a simple repair or of an older vintage may still be valuable to our membership.

Please note we cannot accept radial arm saws.  However, a partner organization uses them for a "back to work" program for veterans.  Contact Bud at 612-750-2976.

What specific tools do you need most right now?

This changes regularly, so we keep a running wish list here.

What is the process for donations?

Donations may be brought to either of our branches during our normal hours or by appointment.  Our locations, hours, etc. are on our home page.

Do you pick up large donations?

If your donation is large enough, we may be able to pick it up. But we'd like to have an idea of age, brand, and quality of tools first.  Usually, the simplest thing for donors to do is to take video or snap several photos of bigger/higher value items or the entire tool collection. Include brands, manufacturers identification labels (model #, etc) where possible.  Please email our inventory committee with video or photos.

Does every donated tool end up in the Tool Library's inventory?

While we make every attempt to maintain and keep tools, occasionally our inventory is overloaded with a certain type of tool; therefore, please be aware that while we really appreciate (and survive on) donations, your specific tool may not be kept in inventory indefinitely. Tools removed from inventory might be donated to another nonprofit organization or might be sold to cover operating costs or provide high-demand tools.

Can I donate lumber or hardware?

Our space is limited, so often we can't accept lumber or hardware donations.  Sometimes other members can, though.  Otherwise, we suggest donating it to the Habitat ReUse store.