Made In Chicago: The Chicago Tool Library

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By WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Need a pasta maker? A two-person tent? A circular saw? The Chicago Tool Library has you covered. 

"Just like you go to a public library to borrow books, you would come here and instead of books you would borrow tools," said Tessa Vierk, the co-founder of the library that opened in 2019, an idea Made in Chicago.

The non-profit Chicago Tool Library, at 1048 W. 37th St. Suite 102 in Bridgeport, offers tools, house items and kitchen tools and is the city's first community lending co-op model.

"We don't just have drills and saws," Vierk said. "We also have things like sewing machines and ice cream machines and all sorts of things that you might not own yourself but want to have access to."

Vierk said while members have to pay an annual fee to join the tool library, it's based on what people can afford. Some members pay as little as a dollar a year. She said this makes the library equitable for all income brackets so as not to make it exclusive. Rather, she wants the tools to be available to everyone.

This type of co-op lending model is new to Chicago but can be found in several large cities across the world. Toronto, Reykjavik, Baltimore, Oakland, Vancouver, Calgary, Edinburgh, Seattle, Brisbane, Portland, Auckland are just some that have lending libraries. In 2019 over 200 tool lending libraries provided tools and resources to their communities, according to the Chicago library's website.

"Can you imagine a world where a space like a tool library is normalized, where all of the things that we're hoarding in our closets are in these public spaces?" she said. "Where during those five years when you're not using it, 30 other families can use it and you have a clean closet? That's the world I imagine."

Vierk's dream is to build a network of tool libraries around the Chicago-area.

"We do have members from every corner of Chicago, but I do feel bad every time one of our Rogers Park members comes down here. I would love to be closer to them to help them," she said.