by Emily Mandaville

The Capitol Hill Tool Library was established in 2016, but it is not the first nor last of its kind. Tool libraries, sometimes referred to as Libraries of Things, have been around since the 1940s. 

Seattle itself has a longstanding history of tool libraries, with the Phinney Tool Library opening its doors in 1977, making it one of the oldest in the country and a source of inspiration for various projects in the Seattle area and beyond. In 2011, the publication Popular Mechanics posted an article featuring the West Seattle Tool Library that listed “building a tool library” as one of its top ten ways to change the world.

Between 2013 and 2015, the number of tool libraries in the U.S. increased from around 40 locations to over 60 nationwide. There are nine in King County, six of which are in Seattle. Like our Capitol Hill location, these libraries offer a variety of tools, kitchen appliances, outdoor equipment, and other assorted goodies. Before you go out and buy something new, consider shopping around your local libraries to see if it’s in stock nearby. 

In case you’re not close to the Sustainable Capitol Hill Tool Library at 1552 Crawford Place, here’s a compilation of other tool libraries in the area to help you in your search. 

Seattle Tool Libraries Outside of Capitol Hill:

  1. Ballard Tool Library – 7549-B 15th Ave, Seattle, WA, 98117
  2. Phinney Neighborhood Association Tool Lending Library – 6615 Dayton Ave Seattle, WA 98103
  3. Shoreline Tool Library – 16610 Aurora Ave N Shoreline, WA 98133
  4. NE Seattle Tool Library – 10228 Fischer Place NE, Seattle, WA 98125
  5. Southeast Seattle Tool Library – 4425 MLK Jr. Way S, Seattle, WA 98108
  6. West Seattle Tool Library – Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle, WA 98106

Surrounding Areas:

  1. Vashon Tool Library – SE corner of O2 building Next to O-Space, off SW 188th St. PO Box 1235 Vashon, WA 98070
  2. Tacoma Tool Library – 1105 M.L.K. Jr Way, Tacoma, WA 98405
  3. South King Tool Library – 1700 S 340th St, Federal Way, WA 98003
  4. Underwood Conservation District Farm Tool Library – 1085 N Main Ave, White Salmon, WA 98672
  5. Methow Recycles Share Library – 12 Airport Road Twisp, WA 98856
  6. Spokane Library of Things – Various Spokane Library locations
  7. Northeast Portland Tool Library – Leaven Community Center, 5431 NE 20th Avenue, Portland, OR 97211
  8. The Vancouver Tool Library – 3448 Commercial St, Vancouver, BC
  9. Victoria Tool Library – 750 Fairfield Rd, Victoria, BC 

Going even farther?

Use this interactive map to find a tool library in your community – Find Your Local Tool Lending Library.

Whether you’re here in Seattle or elsewhere, tool libraries provide a variety of items for checkout while also creating a sense of community through workshops, events, and classes. Supporting these local organizations keeps them alive and running so they can continue to serve the community for years to come.

If you’re in our neighborhood, come say hi to us at the CHTL. If you’re elsewhere in the world, use this resource to find and support your local library instead. Happy lending!

Puget Sound Tool Library Map

Map created by staff from South King Tool Library in Auburn