Frequently Asked Questions

What is the West Philly Tool Library? 
The West Philly Tool Library is a place where fellow community members can borrow a variety of hand, power, bike and garden tools to help us fix up our homes, maintain our yards, build furniture and other objects, and even start new art projects!

How much does it cost for me to join as an individual?
The Tool Library is committed to its community. In order to ensure that the Tool Library is accessible to all, our individual memberships follow a voluntary sliding scale.  We ask you pay between $20 and $50 per year. This is based on your individual income.

Here’s what we suggest:

Annual Income Annual Membership
up to $25,000 $20
$25,000 to $50,000 $30
$50,000 to $75,000 $40
above $75,000 $50

Lifetime memberships are also available for a one-time investment of $400.

Do I have to live in West Philly to become a member?
Absolutely not. We have active members from all over the city, as well as from neighboring counties and New Jersey.

Where is the Tool Library?
The Tool Library is located in a warehouse at 1314 South 47th Street.  We’re on the west side of the street, about 200 feet south of Woodland Avenue.

What are the hours of operation?
The Tool Library is open every Saturday from 9am to 3pm, and Monday through Thursday evenings from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.

How long can I borrow a tool?
Members can borrow tools for up to seven days at a time.

Are there late fees?
Yes.  The Tool Library charges $1 per tool per day that the Tool Library is open that your tool is late.

Can I borrow tools as soon as I join?
Expect there to be a seven-day waiting period while we contact your references.

Can I renew a tool if I need it for longer than seven days?
We don’t renew power tools or ladders. Many times, we can renew other tools, but you must bring the tool into the Tool Library on or before its due date. We do not renew tools via phone or email. All renewals are made at the discretion of the tool librarian on duty, who will take tool popularity, inventory and borrower history into account when making the decision.

What tools does the Tool Library carry?
The Tool Library currently carries over 4,000 tools, from hand tools to power tools to gardening tools. Look at the “OUR TOOLS” page for a list of the tools that are available.

How long has the Tool Library been open?
The Tool Library unofficially opened in September 2007. We had our grand opening on March 15, 2008.

How does the Tool Library make sure that no one steals the tools?
The Tool Library is a community project operated by community residents from Philadelphia. We hope that community members will return the tools promptly and without undue damage. In order to help to ensure that tools are returned, however, we ask that all members provide two forms of identification (including one government-issued photo ID and one ID with a current address) and provide the names and contact information of two personal references. If tools are not returned on time, members will be assessed late fees.

What happens if I break or lose a tool?
Before members borrow their first tools, they must read and sign our tool borrowing policy. Members are expected to return the tools in the same condition as they were issued, barring normal wear and tear. The member is expected to pay for the loss of or damage to any tool.

Who runs the Tool Library?
The Tool Library employs two part-time librarians and a part-time executive director. The Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) is our fiscal sponsor.  Interested in getting involved?  Talk to a tool librarian the next time you’re in the Tool Library.

Are the membership fees alone enough to pay for the Tool Library?
No. Membership fees pay for about a third of the Tool Library’s annual budget. The rest of the budget needs to be raised from community supporters and grants. Donate today and help to put tools in the hands of our neighbors who need them. Donations also, quite literally, keep the lights, heat, and Internet on in the Library.

Are donations tax deductible?
Yes! The West Philly Tool Library is a project of the Urban Affairs Coalition, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. You should, of course, check with your tax professional about specifics.

Do other tool libraries exist?
Yes. There are over 20 other tool libraries in other cities in the United States, including Rochester, NY; Buffalo, NY; Columbus, OH; Portland, OR; Atlanta, GA; and Oakland, CA. New tool libraries are popping up regularly, and the West Philly Tool Library often serves as a model and resource for these new tool libraries.

Can I donate tools to the Tool Library?
YES! We welcome all tool donations. Because we are a project of UAC, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductible. For more information about donating tools, please click here.

How do I become a member of the Tool Library?
To become a member, please complete a Membership Application and pay your membership dues. You can also join online. When you come in to borrow your first tool, you will be asked to sign a waiver form acknowledging liability for the use of the tools and agreeing to follow our tool policy.

How can I become more involved in the Tool Library?
We welcome others to become involved in starting and running the Library. If you would like to become more involved, please contact us at info@westphillytools.org.

I’m interested in starting a tool library in my community.  Do you have any advice?
The West Philly Tool Library receives at least one inquiry per month from someone wanting to start a tool library in their community.  We’re happy to share what we know and the lessons we’ve learned.  Click here for more resources on starting a tool library in your community.

More questions?
Please talk to any member of the Tool Library or contact us via our contact page.

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When are we open?

Monday - Thursday:
5:30pm to 8:30pm

Saturday: 9:00am to 3:00pm

Where are we?

1314 S. 47th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19143

We are in a warehouse on the west side of S. 47th Street about 200 feet south of Woodland Avenue.

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Who are we?

The West Philly Tool Library loans tools to community members so they can perform simple home maintenance, tend their yards and gardens, build furniture, start projects, and learn new skills in a safe and affordable manner.