City Tool Library expands its reach to Portobello

The new tool library will launch at Portobello Library. Picture; Google Maps
The new tool library will launch at Portobello Library. Picture; Google Maps
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RESIDENTS can now check out a hammer as well as the latest hardback thanks to a new scheme launching at libraries across the Capital.

Visitors to Portobello Library will now have access to a fully-equipped toolbox after the venue teamed up with charity Edinburgh Tool Library to help more people access their scheme.

First opened in a former Leith Walk police box in 2015, Edinburgh Tool Library offers users the chance to borrow equipment they might not ­otherwise have been able to ­access for tasks such as gardening and DIY.

As well as their new Portobello venue, the Edinburgh Tool Library team is also hoping to install new boxes in Craigmillar and Piershill libraries from August.

Anna Raymond, Edinburgh Tool Library co-ordinator, said the team was delighted to be expanding the project across the Capital.

She said: “At the Tool Library we are incredibly excited to expand our reach beyond Leith and share our tools with the residents of Portobello, Piershill and Craigmillar. We hope to work with these communities to help them learn new skills, save money and save the planet.”

Since opening in an ex-police box on Leith Walk, the tool library has grown to offer 4000 items, including hand tools, power tools and gardening gear, and leads an extensive programme of community projects, helping local charities and groups to design and build.

The charity also supports young unemployed people to learn about tools, maintenance and customer service, under the mentorship of retired professionals, from their workshop in Custom Lane, Leith.

Annual membership of the Edinburgh Tool Library is purchased by making a chosen donation to the charity. Membership can also be bought as a gift for someone else via the organisation’s “pay it forward” scheme.

Once a member, users can view the tool library’s inventory online, reserve an item and then collect it the following Saturday. They are then able to use the item for a week before dropping it off again.

Founders are now hoping to offer services to engage with and support community initiatives around the three libraries involved.

Edinburgh Tool Library members also have access to the Custom Lane workshop for guidance and DIY advice from experienced volunteers.

Councillor Ian Perry, the council’s new children and families convener, said: “Our libraries provide a local hub for so many people – whether they go there to meet like-minded people, learn a new skill or simply take out a book – and now they can borrow their tools too.

“This worthwhile project will not only offer the public access to worthwhile resources, but will support people to learn skills and gain experience, to the benefit of the surrounding community.”

Tool Library founder Chris Hellawell previously explained he took inspiration from a similar social enterprise in Canada, which he was told about by a friend visiting from Toronto.

When the tool box later opened in Leith Walk, it was the first scheme of its kind in the UK.