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Transition Guelph project seeking funding for new “Creator Kits” to help bring unique ideas to life


Launched in conjunction with Giving Tuesday, we are  looking to raise $2,500 in order to add a series of specialty kits to our inventory. These kits will allow users to carry out special interest projects such as podcasting, video production, robotics, and backyard chicken hatching.


At the Guelph Tool Library, we currently have an inventory of over 500 unique tools, including kitchen appliances, party supplies, arts and crafts resources, gardening equipment, renovation tools, and more. We also host Repair Cafés to repair your broken items, and offer courses to help you learn about tool usage, waste reduction, food production, and more.

In 2017, we ran a crowdfunding campaign to facilitate our move to Tytler School. Since the relocation, our member base has almost tripled, and we have increased our hours and capacity run programs and connect with the community.


With our Indiegogo campaign funds, we hope to acquire the following “Creator Kits”:

YouTube creator kit -EOS Rebel SL2 camera, SanDisk 64 GB, VideoMicro compact on-camera microphone, GorillaPod SLR-Zoom 7 Ballhead stand
Podcaster kit -HPM1000 stereo headphone with mini jack and 6.3 mm adapter, XENYX502 channel studio mixer with XLR input/microphone preamplifier, UCA200, XM8500, UCA200 – 22 I/O USB audio interface with hardwired USB cable, Table microphone tripod
Incubator kit – A kit to hatch various types of bird eggs
GoPro kit – GoPro Hero 5, Tripod, Selfie stick, Sandisk memory card, Carrying case
Robot kit – Robot, USB charging cord, Two building brick connectors, Documentation


When asked about this next step for the Guelph Tool Library, coordinator John Dennis writes:

Most of our inventory has been donated but we are looking to expand our offerings.  This campaign is to target and purchase items that we thought would be great additions to our inventory but unlikely to be donated.
We are always looking for ideas and inspiration for our collection.  The idea of “maker kits” came from our friends at the Wellington County Library and the Portland Tool Library.
We are always looking for new and innovative ways to serve our members.  The maker kits are a new way for our tools to be used.

These kits hope to increase the creative capacity of the citizens of Guelph, and remove financial barriers between inspiration and the realization of big ideas. Starting on Tuesday, November 27th, people will be able to support this campaign by placing a pledge, with tiers starting at $10 for tool library branded swag, discounted memberships for $30, $50 for a bundle that includes swag and a membership, and $500 for a year’s worth of courses, a GTL t-shirt and tote bag, and a 2-year membership. Please share widely on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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Shape Your Tool Library!

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Our resident librarian is at it again!

Brandon is conducting an innovative new type of research to inform us about how the tool library can improve.

Would you like to do an information horizon interview???

Sound cool? It is! The whole process takes less than 30 minutes, it’s wicked fun, and your input will shape the next steps the tool library takes in growing Guelph’s sharing economy. All you have to do is email Brandon and express an interest. He’ll meet up with you during one of his tool library shifts or at a time of your choosing. We’ll only be collecting interviews for the next two or three weeks, so if you’d like to get involved don’t delay!

“Am I eligible to participate?” you ask. All you need to be is..

  • someone who has used a tool library at least once (and it doesn’t need to be Guelph’s)
  • an adult from a non-vulnerable population
  • willing to part with 30 minutes of your time for a VERY worthy cause!

So don’t delay and shoot Brandon and email to get more details.

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Adventures in Collection Development


One of the toughest things to decide on for a community-minded, volunteer-run library is a collection development policy. I say for “a community-minded, volunteer-run” library with reason. Authoring a collection development policy is relatively easy for a more institutionalized library; the collections development librarian takes a look at his/her budget and says, “We’re drawing the line at graphic novels!” And that, generally, is that. The decision is the domain of one person’s professional judgment, everyone trusts in that decision and, even if not everyone agrees 100%, operations go forward.

I’m discovering with the Guelph Tool Library, as I did with Out On The Shelf, that when collection development policy is the product of a committee, things get more complicated quickly. In many ways, having a limited budget becomes ones saving grace; what services the library can afford to provide (and a collection is just one of many services) given its available resources is often where discussions around collection development begin and end. People may be frustrated or disappointed at the end of collection development meetings (“Awwwe… You mean we can’t afford a 3D printer?”) but generally no one argues and everyone is able to accept the reality of the situation.

When managing the Out On The Shelf library, political concerns were more front and centre. For example, “Should we purchase more trans narratives for the collection even if trans folks make up a small percentage of our patrons?” Or, “Should we favor fiction over non-fiction?” Or (and here’s a big one), “Should we continue collecting anti-LGBTQ narratives for the archive even though we have such limited space?” In the end, Out On The Shelf often didn’t have much in the way of extra funds to make such targeted purchases (one day soon, though!), but after several discussions with volunteers I decided that, when the time to invest money ever comes, one of our collection development policies should probably read something like this:

Targeted acquisitions shall be made with a mind to increasing the number and quality of items available of interest to minority groups within the LGBTQ+ community slightly beyond their proportional representation within the community. This shall be done out of a recognition of the impacts of historical marginalization in society at large. Furthermore, this shall be done while maintaining the mind that completely equal balance of items in the collection among all minority groups, in terms of both number and quality, is neither necessary nor practical. In this way the Out On The Shelf library collection shall, in its small way, strive to expand the diversity of its own collection while maintaining a mind to the wants and needs of its patron base.

With the Guelph Tool Library, political concerns came into consideration as well, but the politics were several degrees less personal. We dealt with questions such as, “Do we make an active attempt to acquire more popular items, such as camping equipment, even though it does not promote a more sustainable food system, which is one of our primary mandates?” When that question came up, I suddenly felt like I was back in a traditional library. Every librarian struggles with questions such as, “Do I purchase more paperback bestsellers or invest in that nice, large-print, hardcover classics collection?”

As one of the earliest members of Out On The Shelf, I was more comfortable speaking about values and priorities. But as the newest member of the Guelph Tool Library team, I didn’t feel like I should be leading the discussion or speaking to the founding values of the organization. I decided that the best thing I could do was provide a neutral framework for the discussion informed by what I knew about collection development in other contexts. What better way to do that than with a snazzy diagram!


I developed the above chart to help visualize our challenge in terms of collection development. I explained that there would always be things we wanted to do that were beyond our resources, there would always be demands of the community that would be beyond our resources, there will be values and goals that don’t overlap with the needs of the community and vice versa. BUT there will be a space where they do overlap and we do have the resources to meet those needs. I explained that, while we can accomplish anything inside the box of our resources, we should aim for the space in the middle where our values and goals overlap with the needs and wants of the community; we should treat it as the “bullseye,” the most effective space for our collection development decisions to be made.

Once we all agreed on the validity of this decision model, it helped us make such decisions as a group neutrally, away from anyone’s personal values or opinions. We were able to arrive at conclusions such as, “Well… if camping equipment comes our way and we have the space to store it, then we won’t turn it away. But stuff like that should probably stay off of our official wish list.”

I was pleasantly pleased that this approach to authoring a collection development policy lead not to lists of “Thou Shalt” and “Thou Shalt Not”s but, seemingly without ever trying, it provided something much more useful, the adoption of a mental framework for discussion and decision-making that everyone involved could agree upon.

Note: working with these folks is never difficult! Things just went from smooth to smoother.       🙂

In conclusion, I look forward to the day when a used propane stove comes through the door as a donation and we can all roll our eyes in unison and find some room for it behind the newly purchased pressure cooker!

–Brandon, Librarian @ Guelph Tool Library

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It’s Different From Books

IMG  edited CellarDoorPress

img_0064_edited_cellardoorpressGreetings, all!

As the Guelph Tool Library’s one and only Librarian I felt the professional obligation to blog about my experiences setting up a library that was so different from any I’d previously managed –so different from most libraries managed throughout the history of librarianship.

All my previous experience was with books and media of some sort or another. For my day job I work at the Guelph Public Library. Previously I was instrumental in setting up and maintaining Out On The Shelf’s lending library. With books, DVDs, digital materials, and so forth it’s easy to line up your items –both physical and digital– like little toy soldiers and march them into your catalogue and onto your shelves in perfect order everytime. In fact, librarians kind of get off on it. With books one gets to feel a bit like the Napoleon of your little library world and take pride in knowing that everything is being perfectly presented to the public. With tools, not so much.

I came aboard the team late. For months my colleages Susan, John, and Saba had been doing the hard work of finding items for the collection and a space to house it. My first experience of the Guelph Tool Library was when they led me into a little room in the back of the Trafalgar Building which John figured out was, once upon a time, used to test the appliances once manufactured there. I saw literally hundreds of tools –hand pruners, frying pans, electric drills, weed wackers, and dozens upon dozens of items I couldn’t even put a name to.

My first desire to put everything in the entire room in one corner and then move it –item by item– onto the shelves as it was photographed and fully catalogued was obviously not practical. My second impulse to immediately barcode everything also had to be rethought –how do you stick a barcode on a cast iron frying pan or a ball joint tool?

For someone used to harvesting ISBNs and downloading MARC records to edit and neatly upload by the hundreds, this Tool Library project required something of paradigm shift for me. I needed to abandon my toy soldier expectations and enter the world of guerilla librarianship. In other words, it was going to be fun!

Instead of marching toy solders neatly across a field, I feel more like a squirrel gathering nuts. Go over there and snap a photo of that cool soldering kit. Now upload it. Now swing over there and go through that bucket of rakes to catalogue them all individually. Good, now head on over to the Cooking & Food shelves to etch item numbers on all the pots and pans to make checkout quicker. Then comb the internet to find an operating manual for that bandsaw. Got it! Now upload it and link it to the catalogue record. Someone just returned a food dehydrator with an important usage note. Better add that to the catalogue so the next person borrowing it has that information. Now I can do those website updates we decided upon at the last meeting.

For now, I will summarize my experience thus far by sharing my alternate title for this blog post: “How I Learned to Stop Marching Armies and Fell in Love With Chasing Nuts.”

“Squirrel!”     😉

–Brandon, Librarian @ Guelph Tool Library