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Celebrating One Year of Success at The Edinburgh Tool Library

Edinburgh Tool Library Group Photo

It’s been just over a year since The Edinburgh Tool Library (ETL) took up residency at our Urban Eden development – and what a year it’s been.

As Scotland’s first ever tool library, the ETL has thrived, thanks to our #SocialSpace initiative, which pairs social businesses seeking to expand their impact with unlet commercial units on a pro bono basis.

Empowering the Community with Accessible Tools

For those unfamiliar with the ETL, it champions the concept of a sharing economy, operating much like a traditional library but with appliances instead of books. By encouraging locals to share tools, the ETL reduces waste and ensures affordable access to tools for everyone in the Community. The library strives to break down barriers of gender, race, age, ability, and experience, making its services accessible to all.

A Year of Milestones... 

And one year on, the Edinburgh Tool Library’s Meadowbank base has become a beloved destination for both existing library members and newcomers to the Community. The move to this new location has boosted membership across the entire organisation by 15%, enabling the group to support even more Community members.

Now let’s dive into the impressive facts and figures from the last year:  

  • 454 new members joined the library
  • 3,856 loans were made
  • £123,124 was saved by households through borrowing rather than buying tools
  • 24,679 tonnes of CO2 were saved
  • 1,423 people passed through the doors
  • Input given by 35 volunteers, including 20 regulars

Continuing the success

But the team hasn’t stopped there. In January, we were thrilled to award the ETL with additional funding from our Social Impact fund. This support has enabled a number of innovative additions, such as a repair and sharpening space, and a repair café event where Community members can come together and have their belongings fixed with the assistance of volunteer expert repairers. The library also organised further Community events, including workshop inductions and opportunities for individuals to contribute to designing artwork for the shutters and walls, ensuring that the building remains a vibrant location for the Community.

Reaching more people within the Community…

Chris Hellawell, The Edinburgh Tool Library's founder, expressed his excitement for the growth of the project. 

“The beauty of this project is that it has a legacy, both in the engagement with people, and in the systems and physical alterations put in the space, it is something that can continue for the future. What is more, as a leader of the Scottish Share and Repair Network, the outcomes and learning from the workshops, as well as the workflow systems with small tool repairs, can be spread across the network and hopefully, our lessons learned will help others across Scotland. Socially, we would hope that the project would draw in new members and volunteers, in particular from Communities that we don’t yet reach. We are trying to develop advocates for us in these Communities, and so there may be secondary benefits too.”

Janet Morales, Programme Manager at The Edinburgh Tool Library, also remarked on the positive impact of setting up the Meadowbank Tool Library site in partnership with Places for People. She emphasised that the new-found visibility and accessibility have made a significant difference in membership numbers and engagement, adding:

“The Meadowbank site, with its open and welcoming characteristics, stimulates different interactions that we have seen in the past. We receive a lot of curious visits from people passing by, surprised by the concept and who, although having lived in the Leith area from the beginning of the Tool Library, had never come across us before. We are reaching more people in a very organic and natural way.”

A promising future for The Edinburgh Tool Library… 

We are excited about the future of The Edinburgh Tool Library and our ongoing commitment to supporting this local Community business.

Find out more:

Family Walking Togther Down The Street
Man And Woman Fixing Tools
Man Writing On Chalkboard