A stone’s throw away from New York System in the heart of Olneyville, a new kind of library has forged a space not for reading materials but…power tools? You read that right. PVD Library of Things is a dream for the DIY-minded, and so much more.
“Tool libraries and libraries of things have been springing up around the country for the last few decades in order to facilitate sharing between community members and reduce consumer waste,” says steering committee volunteer Sarah Summers. A volunteer-run co-op, PVD Things started in early 2021 with an app and website built by local software development cooperative Starboard, who then got the community involved. A steering committee was formed, things were acquired, operations set up, and as of this fall, the lending library has a permanent home in Olneyville Square.
From tools and home maintenance to recreational items like camping gear, folding tables, lawn games, and cooking equipment, PVD Things’ offerings are tailored to what members are seeking. While many items are donated, “we do buy frequently requested items when our budget allows,” says Summers. “For instance, we just purchased a new power washer due to popular demand. We are very responsive to member requests.”
And those needs are varied, even in the short time they’ve been open. “Members have borrowed lots of tools for home improvement projects like hanging shelves or kitchen remodels,” says Summers. “But our tools have also been used to make a shelf for a local restaurant. We had a church borrow lawn mowers to clean up Oaklawn Cemetery in Cranston. A community group stopped by to borrow a table for a Design Week event after their table broke in the wind. It's really exciting to see our ‘things’ being used in ways that bring people together or improve the community.”
For the price of $20 for a lifetime share, along with annual dues determined by an income-based sliding scale, members can borrow anything from their inventory (which is listed online) for a week-long loan. The co-op is also always seeking donations. Current items on their wishlist include a carpet cleaner, drain snake, small bandsaw, OBD code reader, projector, food dehydrator, pressure canner, wheelbarrow, and extension ladder.
“We are also looking to start offering workshops and skill shares – we'd like to turn it into a community space where people can learn new skills and meet their neighbors,” says Summers. She encourages anyone interested to drop in and say hi during Wednesday evenings when they’re open.
“Overall, feedback about this project has been wildly positive – people love the idea; it makes a lot of sense to them. They're excited to pitch in to make it happen through donations, volunteering, and stopping by our events.” 12 Library Court, PVDThings.Coop
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