Welcome to #CLPSpotlights, our monthly series highlighting individuals and organizations that make a difference in their community. This month, we interviewed Dan from from the Millvale Community Library’s Tool Library. Patrons just need a library to access over 900 hand and power tools for building, home maintenance, gardening, plumbing, cars, bikes, and more.
Q. How has your work evolved during the pandemic to meet the community’s needs?
A. We spent a year checking out tools from a tent on the library’s back deck. We’re just happy to be back inside!
Q. What is your favorite part of what you do?
A. The Tool Library has regular borrowers, first-time homeowners who are fixing up houses in Millvale, Garfield and East Deutschtown, and first-time business owners who are opening up cafes, bars, and venues. It’s great to get to know these Pittsburghers, hear about their endeavors, help out a little.
Q. What do you wish the public knew about your organization?
A. The public libraries in Allegheny County are connected. If you’re from Millvale, you can borrow books from any of the Carnegie libraries. If you’re from Pittsburgh, or anywhere else in the county, you can come on over to Millvale and borrow tools using your usual library card. That seems to come as a surprise to a lot of people. And Millvale’s closer to downtown Pittsburgh than so many of the city’s own neighborhoods.
Q. If you could change one thing about Pittsburgh, what would it be?
A. Pittsburgh and many its surrounding communities have long had a sort of grassroots spirit. People take the initiative to get things done. That’s how the Millvale Community Library, which opened in 2013, came about. Folks in Millvale made it happen. Same with the Tool Library—it was and still is a volunteer-driven project. Most of the tools—and we now have over 1000 tools for lending—have also come in as donations, many from retiring contractors and tradespeople. Hopefully Pittsburgh won’t ever lose that collective, get-it-done spirit.
Q. What was an especially fulfilling moment for you in your work?
A. We sometimes make these abstract arguments, in grant applications and such, that the Tool Library helps folks save money, it keeps tools out of the landfill or from gathering dust in a basement or garage, it equips and empowers individuals. When you see it actually working, playing out in real life, that’s great.
Q. What is your favorite local business or organization?