Lake County’s tool library has officially launched, offering much-needed home maintenance resources to the community.

The tool library is housed in Lake County Public Library (LCPL) and allows library card holders to check out various tools, like saws, measuring tapes, hammers and more.

LCPL hosted a Tools and Tacos event on May 1 to introduce the new resource. Volunteers demonstrated how to use different saws and other tools, and the El Mexicano food truck was on deck for a late lunch. LCPL Director Brena Smith explained how to use the resource during an orientation session, and community members signed up as tool library members.

To become tool library members, Lake County residents need to sign a liability waiver, attend a tool library orientation and have a library card. Individuals can pick up tools anytime the library is open, and can also schedule pickups and see what’s available through a catalog on the library website. Tool library items are free to check out whenever LCPL is open.

The tool library was funded through a Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) grant in partnership with Lake County Build a Generation (LCBAG). LCBAG Lead Housing Facilitator Kristi Galarza reached out to Smith and Cloud City Conservation Center (C4) Director Emily Olsen when she heard about the grant opportunity.

They decided LCPL would be the best fit for the tool library since it already offers items for check out, with C4 and LCBAG providing additional support.

Lake County’s tool library is the first one CHFA has been involved with, according to Jeff Owsley, the organization’s south central Colorado community relationship manager. It’s also the first tool library in Colorado that’s actually housed within an actually library. “This has provided a way to give greater access to the tools because there’s so many people that are connected to a library,” said Owsley.

Smith said libraries have been taking on newer and more “untraditional” items during the last 10 or 15 years, and Lake County is rolling with the trend. In addition to the tool library, LCPL already has a many items available for check out, including musical instruments, craft kits and cameras.

LCPL received an additional grant from CHFA to do home maintenance classes with help from C4. This might include a “build your own raised-bed garden class,” Olsen said. A schedule of potential classes is not yet available.

The tool library can also ease some financial burden among Lake County residents. If someone needs a table saw, Smith said, they can check one out rather than going out and spending a fortune.

A lot of houses in Lake County are more than 100 years old, Galarza said, and there’s always some maintenance to be done, she added. The tool library also gives homeowners  the opportunity to do home repairs themselves during a construction trade labor shortage.

“The delayed maintenance on homes in this community is pretty high,” Galarza said. “And so anytime you can help reduce barriers to help people have a healthier home, the better our community is overall.”

The tool library is gearing up to be a resource for new homeowners like Mara Gwin and Cramer Vlerebome, who are working on backyard projects, including a greenhouse.“We’re new homeowners, but we don’t have the capital to go out and buy like a whole new thing of tools,” Gwin said. “So yeah, just having it here is super cool.”

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