Tool Library

Mundelein Tool Library: Caring Through Sharing
Mundelein, Illinois

Mundelein created the Mundelein Tool Library (MTL) to provide no- or low-cost access to a wide variety of tools, particularly tools that may not be practical for individuals to buy, store, and maintain. Utilizing benefits of what has come to be known as “share economy,” “collaborative consumption,” or “peer economy,” MTL seeks to reap tangible value for the Village of Mundelein and its neighbors by lending tools to residents who need them.  

Van Miller, a long-time resident of Mundelein, first conceived of the idea of a tool library in 2019 after visiting a tool library in Portland, Oregon. Van thought that a tool library in Mundelein would bring great benefits to Mundelein by providing tools for home repair and hobbies for those with modest incomes, providing classes and workshops to promote practical learning, increasing visits to Mundelein for the benefit of Mundelein retailers, raising Mundelein’s profile as a community, and fostering a spirit of community and volunteerism. MTL has swiftly grown into a thriving non-profit with hundreds of enthusiastic members, thousands of donated tools in inventory, and a running average of several dozen tool loans outstanding at any given time.

MTL benefits include:

  • Reduces cost-related barriers to home improvements
  • Reduces environment footprint and encourages sustainable consumption
  • Promotes community building and sharing through a 100% volunteer-led organization
  • Skills development and continuing education through hosted programs and classes, which are often free to attend
  • Free, on-demand access to knowledge/expertise from highly skilled/trained tool advisors to provide project guidance
  • Facility space available to reserve for event hosting
  • On-site workshop available for dedicated DIY/project activities that may not be feasible at home
  • Bolsters partnership network with local public village/township government organizations

MTL has more than 500 members. MTL asks for a small donation from members for an annual membership.  MTL completed 1,000 tool loans, covering 321 different tools, to members. MTL typically has more than 90 tool loans outstanding at any given time. Some items, including chain saws, wet tile saws, and floor nailers, are particularly popular. The website itemizes MTL’s inventory and allows members to check the availability of tools.

MTL is currently open to the public on Tuesdays and Saturdays and staffed solely by volunteers. The building is owned by the Village of Mundelein.  Recognizing the value of MTL’s services to the community, the Village is providing this otherwise unused space to MTL and has encouraged and supported MTL as it has grown.

Through MTL, Mundelein has joined ranks with a select group of other innovative communities that have established tool libraries, such as Seattle, Berkeley, Atlanta, Chicago, and Edinburgh, Scotland. Popular Mechanics magazine recognized “Building a Local Tool Library” as one of its top ten ways to “change the world.” MTL’s slogan is “Caring Through Sharing.”