Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions

What is the West Philly Tool Library?2021-04-17T18:30:57-04:00

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! You can learn more at our Mission page.

Where is WPTL located?2021-04-17T18:32:00-04:00

The West Philly Tool Library is located at 1314 S. 47th Street in Philadelphia. To see it on a map and/or get directions, visit our Contact page.

What are WPTL’s hours?2021-04-17T18:33:12-04:00

You can find our current hours of operation on our Contact page.

How long has WPTL been open?2021-04-17T19:00:53-04:00

The Tool Library unofficially opened in September 2007. We had our grand opening on March 15, 2008.

Who runs the WPTL?2024-02-17T05:13:32-05:00

The Tool Library employs a small staff, but we also rely on community volunteers to help with operations and to serve as members of our various committees. Interested in getting involved? Learn how to donate your time and talent on our Donate page, or talk to a tool librarian next time you’re in the Tool Library.

Do other tool libraries exist?2022-03-16T23:43:03-04:00

Yes. There are numerous tool libraries throughout the country, including Rochester, NY; Buffalo, NY; Columbus, OH; Portland, OR; Atlanta, GA; Oakland, CA; and many more. You can check out this map to see tool library locations all around the world!  New ones are popping up regularly, and the West Philly Tool Library often serves as a model and resource for these new tool libraries.

I’d like to start a tool library in my community. Do you have any advice?2022-03-16T23:45:03-04:00

The West Philly Tool Library regularly receives inquires from folks looking for advice on how to start up 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.

How Much It Costs

How much are annual membership dues?2021-04-17T18:49:17-04:00

Membership dues are on a sliding scale based on annual self-reported income. We rely on the honor system and ask members to pay only as much as they are able. Further, we have memberships for individuals and for organizations, and you can even give someone a gift membership. View our suggested annual dues at our Membership page, and while you’re there, consider becoming a Lifetime Member.

How much does it cost to borrow tools?2021-04-17T18:46:19-04:00

Nothing. OK, OK, there are some exceptions: if you return tools late or fail to return them, there may be some costs associated with borrowing. But for the most part, you can check out as many tools as you want per year for only the cost of your annual membership, which is usually less than you’d pay to rent a tool for one hour at a big box store.

Do you charge late fees?2021-04-17T20:00:19-04:00

Yes. The Tool Library charges $1.00 per tool per day. The $1.00 fee will only be enforced for days that the tool library is operating. Example: your tool is due back on Wednesday, but you don’t return it until Tuesday of the following week. That week, WPTL was open for their normal schedule, so the late fee would be $4.00 per tool (Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday); if we had closed for a holiday on Monday, the late fee would only be $3.00 per tool.

Becoming A Member

How do I join?2021-04-17T19:41:27-04:00

The West Philly Tool Library offers several types of memberships, including ones for individuals, organizations, and gift memberships. You can even become a Lifetime Member. All the details are available on our Membership page.

Do I need to live in West Philly to become a member?2021-04-17T18:48:03-04:00

Absolutely not. We have active members from all over the city, as well as from neighboring counties and New Jersey.

Can I borrow tools as soon as I join?2022-03-16T23:38:44-04:00

New members can typically expect to be able to borrow tools during their first visit to the tool library. However, that’s contingent on a complete membership application, including getting in touch with your 2 references. If the tool library is particularly busy when you come in, you may need to come back at a later time once we’ve been able to contact your references and complete the application.

What documentation do I need to provide?2021-04-17T20:10:27-04:00

Currently, we require all of the following to activate your WPTL membership:

  • a government issued photo I.D.
  • proof of address in the form of a piece of mail or something similar
  • two references that we will call when you come to the tool library for the first time
  • a signed waiver
  • paid membership dues for the year
How do I redeem my gift membership?2022-03-16T23:27:48-04:00

Just come on in with the name of whoever thought to give you such a thoughtful gift. With that, we can pull up the payment record and then you can join to become a member.

Borrowing Tools

How do I borrow tools?2022-03-16T23:58:04-04:00

Once you’re a member, you can just come on in any time that we’re open, grab whatever tools you need, and then check them out with the tool librarian working at the front desk.

Can the tool librarians tell me what tools I need for my project?2022-03-16T23:56:23-04:00

Yes! Well, usually. Tools librarians love nothing more than hearing about your projects and discussing best practices/strategies for tackling them. That being said, each tool librarian has different background  knowledge. Some certainly know more about carpentry than car repair, while others have lots of experience gardening. If the tool librarian working doesn’t know, another member might be eavesdropping and have just the solution!

What if I break or lose a tool?2021-04-19T18:01:26-04:00

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.

What if I don’t know how to use the tool I’d like to borrow?2022-03-16T23:51:12-04:00

While we encourage all of our members to explore building projects beyond their immediate comfort zone, we can’t ignore the fact that we have a number of tools (saws in particular) that can do some real damage. If you aren’t confident and comfortable operating a particular tools, consider signing up for a one of our classes to get some hands on instruction!

What tools does WPTL carry?2022-03-16T23:31:33-04:00

WPTL carries around 4000 tools which includes a pretty vast array of power tools, hand tools, gardening tools, and even some automotive tools.  You can check out our inventory [here].

For how long may I keep a tool I’ve borrowed?2021-04-17T20:12:17-04:00

First, allow us to complement your excellent grammar. Second, members may borrow tools for up to seven days at a time.

Can I renew a tool if I need it longer than seven days?2021-04-17T20:13:49-04:00

Yes, but you need to bring the tool(s) in on or before the original due date and there are no guarantees about whether you can keep the tool(s) for an additional week. 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. Some examples of popular tools that we limit to one week include table saws, air compressors, tile saws, weed whackers/string trimmers, hammer drills, and others.

How does WPTL make sure no one steals the tools?2021-04-17T20:18:05-04:00

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. If the tools are not returned at all, we will contact personal references in an attempt to reach you.

How To Help

How can I financially support WPTL’s mission?2021-04-17T17:29:39-04:00

The West Philly Tool Library is always accepting donations of time, talent, tools, and, of course, money. To find out all the ways you can help our cause, visit the Donate page.

Do you accept donations of new or used tools?2021-04-17T17:27:17-04:00

The Tool Library is actively seeking tool donations of all kinds. We especially welcome hand tools, power tools, gardening tools, and ladders. For more info, visit our Donate page.

How can I volunteer?2021-04-17T17:37:21-04:00

Volunteering is one of the most rewarding (and most needed) ways you can give back to WPTL. Volunteers help us with everything from taking inventory to teaching classes; you can even help steer the future direction of the tool library by serving on one of our committees. Everything you need to know is on our Donate page.

Are donations to WPTL tax deductible?2021-04-17T20:20:36-04:00

Probably! 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.

Don’t see what you’re looking for?

Reach out to us directly via our Contact page.

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