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Millvale Library announces Tool Lending Library

People who use the Millvale Community Library will notice building work on the land soon.

People who use the Millvale Community Library will see building work on the property soon.

Melissa Mason, who runs the Millvale Community Library, said that they will build a 12 by 40-foot building behind the library to be the new home for the Millvale Tool Lending Library.

Mason said, “This has been a long time coming. The project has been in progress for about two years and was led by the previous staff and board members.”

Mason joined the library in May of last year and helped to finish things up.

Established in 2018, the Tool Library gives people access to more than 1,000 tools, including hand and power tools for building, woodworking, home maintenance, gardening, plumbing, cars and bikes. Mason explained that the power tools in the library’s collection include, but are not limited to, pressure washers and small power saws.

Mason mentioned, “The volunteers don’t lend out anything that could be a little more dangerous. For example, there are no chainsaws in the Tool Lending Library.”

Each tool comes with a user manual for the person borrowing it to read. Visitors can also talk to one of the 12 Tool Library volunteers to get advice about using the tools and completing their projects.

“Our volunteers are very passionate and skilled,” Mason said.

According to the Millvale Community Library website, guests who have used the Tool Library, which is a low-cost or free resource for anyone over 18, have saved an estimated $112,500 each year by borrowing tools instead of buying or renting. People with a library card can borrow up to five tools for one week after signing a waiver. Mason said that there haven’t been many problems with getting tools returned, but volunteers have had to pick up borrowed equipment from patrons.

The tool selection is currently kept in the Millvale Community Library basement, which means people have to reserve tools online instead of being able to look at them in person. Mason also expressed concern about the risk of flood damage to the tools.

Mason said that they will begin to plan where to put the new facility over a series of weekends in April.

“The area where the building will go is currently a flower bed garden with various plants,” Mason said. “Just like everything at this library, it’s the work of many volunteers and donations over the years. We really want to try to save some of the plant life.”

A landscape designer will help decide which plants can be moved and which will stay in the garden.

With the new building comes a new job. Mason said that once the Tool Library is built, the library plans to hire a program and volunteer coordinator who will manage the Tool Lending Library operations, helping to increase hours and improve the browsing and borrowing experience for patrons and volunteers.

The position will also involve organizing non-literacy-based events and the recruitment and training of volunteers. The coordinator will be responsible for bringing back adult classes about using the tools — such as how to change the oil in a car and how to build a bird box.

Mason mentioned that the library is currently talking to someone about taking that job.

These plans are happening because the library got a $227,320 grant from Allegheny Regional Asset District, a group that helps Allegheny County by giving money to libraries, parks, trails, arts and culture, attractions, sports facilities, and public transit.

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