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. We aim to be a community resource to provide home owners, tenants, long-time residents, and newcomers with the tools (and the knowledge) they need.

The Tool Library is a fiscally-sponsored project of the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC). Since our founding in 2007, we have lent out over 100,000 tools and have welcomed over 4,000 members. 40% of our funding comes from annual membership dues and late fees. The balance is funded by generous individual contributions, as well as community supporters including Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and the Philadelphia Activities Fund, Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, the Connelly Foundation, and more.

The Tool Library is staffed by four part-time tool librarians. A volunteer steering committee meets every other month to do fundraising, set policies, and other administrative and management tasks. If you are interested in becoming part of the steering committee click here for more information.

Interested in starting a tool library in your neighborhood? Click here for resources on how to start your own.

STAFF

Elijah Castillo
Elijah CastilloTool Librarian
Elijah is currently serving a as an AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leader with Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia. Off the jobsite, he can be found learning the business side of the trades at Jefferson, where he is pursing a Master’s degree in Construction Management. Elijah recently became a homeowner in Southwest Philly and joined the staff at the Tool Library as a way to geek out about home improvement projects with his neighbors.
Grace Gallagher
Grace GallagherTool Librarian
Grace has worked as a tool librarian since 2018, when she ditched her paralegal job to pursue her building dreams. Since then, she’s cherished the community that she’s found at the tool library and loves hearing about the wide range of projects that our members are working on. When she’s not tending to tool librarian duties, she works as a carpenter with a design/build company.
Kathleen O'Donnell
Kathleen O'DonnellTool Librarian
Kathleen has lived in West Philly since 1984. She has built furniture, small buildings, and she suspects it was the picture of the boat she built, the Two Dollar Bill, that got her the job as tool librarian in 2011. She was a senior editor in agriculture, biology, and environmental sciences at the Institute for Scientific Information where she worked for more than 20 years. She also was the director of a neighborhood energy center, resources manager at CLASP, and VISTA community organizer at PCNO. She served as board chair for Women’s Anti-Violence Education and AFSC’s Nationwide Women’s Program Committee.
Josh Otis
Josh OtisTool Librarian
Josh moved to West Philadelphia in 2010 and has held full-time jobs as an environmental geologist and stay-at-home dad. Since moving into a new old house in 2015 he has added several part-time positions to his resume including carpenter, plumber, plasterer, painter, and appliance repair person. As a new member in addition to new tool librarian he’s constantly being reminded of how much easier many of those projects could have been if he had joined the Tool Library years ago, and excited to never again hand-nail quarter round trim.

BOARD MEMBERS

Jake Blanch
Jake BlanchBoard Member
A West Philadelphian since 2005, Jake began working with the Tool Library in 2010 and has used Tool Library tools to complete a wide range of renovation projects at his home and around his neighborhood since 2011. Aside from the Tool Library, Jake works with organizations managing a variety of workforce development grants supporting education and work training programs throughout the Mid-Atlantic and teaches writing at Temple University.
Ash Fritzsche
Ash FritzscheBoard Member
Ash Fritzsche is a union electrician and tradeswomen advocate. She first came to the tool library as a homeowner and small contractor, and she’s thrilled to become more involved. She also works with the WINC Project (Women in Nontraditional Careers), a space she uses to spread the word on the opportunities in the trades and to build community among trades workers.
Michael Froehlich
Michael FroehlichBoard Member
Michael Froehlich has lived in West Philadelphia since 2005. By day, he is the managing attorney of the Homeownership and Consumer Rights Unit at Community Legal Services, a Philadelphia legal aid office. He is also involved with Cedar Park Neighbors, Powel Elementary School (which his daughter attends), University City District, and many other community and neighborhood groups. Michael was one of the co-founders of the Tool Library in 2007 and has remained involved since then.
Dan Garofalo
Dan GarofaloBoard Member
Dan is a 20+ year West Philly resident and early member of the Tool Library, and currently lives with his wife Litty, dog Dulce, and cat Ilsa in Spruce Hill. He has been active in the community as a Block Captain, Committeeman, Judge of Elections, and officer of his community association. He has worked in Philly as an architect, university lecturer, sustainability director, and campus planner.
Erin Gautsche
Erin Gautsche
Erin has lived in West Philadelphia for 15 years, and enjoys using power tools to complete projects and repairs on her home. Erin comes to the West Philly Tool Library with a background in events, program development and management, volunteer management, and nonprofit fundraising. She previously worked as the West Philly Tool Library Program Director, and was instrumental in developing and expanding the Tool Library’s educational program. Erin is also developing our volunteer network – reach out if you want to help at the Tool Library!
Jason Sanders
Jason SandersBoard Member
Jason lived in West Philly for over 10 years, while working in design engineering of Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries for C&D/Trojan Battery Company. Since travel has been limited since the pandemic, Jason has much more time for home projects and auto repair, spending time with his family, and now leading several initiatives on the board of the Library. He is very excited to be working with the team and supporting such a good cause, and aims to reorganize the finance and operations group, as well as restarting the newsletter. Jason also wants to hear from all members so reach out to share your feedback and help us continuously improve the Library!
Cassandra Zook
Cassandra ZookBoard Member
Cassie has been a member of the tool library since 2012 and lives in South Philly with her husband and daughter. She works as a systems engineer and has used the tool library in her spare time for many, many house and yard projects. She wants to ensure that resource remains available to everyone in our community.

CONTRIBUTORS

Tiffany Zachry
Tiffany ZachryWebmaster
Tiffany co-founded Love Your Block®, a local real estate company with a DIY spirit, with her wife Laura Seaman. She’s formerly a board member of Philly Loves Beer, the parent organization of Philly Beer Week. She’s been a member of the Tool Library since 2010, and was a board member from 2018 to 2021. She now contributes to WPTL as a webmaster for the new site, which she built and helps maintain.

FORMER TEAM MEMBERS

Peter Foreman-Murray
Peter Foreman-MurrayBoard Member
Peter began his involvement with the Tool Library as a member when he needed a belt sander. He moved on from there to volunteer, tool mechanic, first executive director, and then advisory board member. Peter has renovated multiple homes in South and West Philadelphia with Tool Library tools. During the day he helps businesses find leads and sell things and on the internet.
Sage González-Velázquez
Sage González-VelázquezTool Librarian
Pronouns:He/Him They/Them

Sage is a maker, crafter, and proud trans Puerto Rican. He started working at the tool library in 2020 and loved helping people make their DIY dreams come true. Sage completed his BFA in 2019 and moved to the Philly area with his partner. When he’s not at the Tool Library, he spends most of his time making ceramics for his business, Sagemott, or snuggling with his beautiful calico kitty, Cosita.