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The Chicago Tool Library Inventory Is Tripling — And Needs The Community’s Help Finding A Bigger Space

The organization is growing thanks to a merger with Chicago Community Tools. Library leaders say their ideal space is on the South Side and more accessible to public transit.

Chicago Tool Library founder Tessa Vierk said the organization has group significantly throughout the pandemic, and is expecting to dramatically increase its inventory this year. The team is looking for a new space large enough to hold it all, and needs the community's held to find it.
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BRIDGEPORT — The Chicago Tool Library is growing so fast it needs a new space.

The nonprofit at 1048 W. 37th St. lets neighbors borrow a wide variety of tools rather than having to buy it themselves or hire someone to do work.

Founders Tessa Vierk and Jim Benton created the library in 2019 and began looking for a location to expand last year. But Vierk said its inventory is increasing faster than they thought and they need a much larger space.

“We’ve looked at a lot of spaces in the months between November and now, but we haven’t found our perfect spot, yet,” Vierk said. “We’ve had a lot of close calls and almosts. We’re really trying to rally support to find a much bigger location by the end of this year.”

Vierk said she’s hopeful someone has the perfect spot and can help the group.

The library’s inventory will triple this year thanks to Chicago Community Tools, a nonprofit tool-lending program that lets groups and organizations borrow larger quantities of tools. The merger between the groups will bring 5,000 tools to the library.

Vierk said the staffers hope to stay on the South Side and be closer to public transportation to fulfill their goal of being as accessible as possible. With the quantity of tools they’ll have, the library needs at least 5,000 square feet, she said.

With more space, the library will be able to continue growing its inventory and could offer classes and demonstrations, Vierk said.

“We have a huge demand for classes, and we just haven’t been able to accommodate it. So we might branch out eventually, if we have the right space,” she said.

Vierk said the tool library will also be able to launch its own group-lending program to keep Chicago Community Tools’ mission alive.

“It was always on the horizon for us, but we weren’t really sure how it would come together,” she said. “The tools [Chicago Community Tools has] are just a little bit better-suited for group projects. They have lots and lots of wheelbarrows, and they have generators for outdoor events, they have probably hundreds of shovels and rakes. So they just have kind of more of the same items so that you can rally a whole group of people to get something done.”

Those who have a space for the tool library or want to donate can get in touch through its website.

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