Richmond residents look to the Richmond Tool Library to learn about and access almost any tool you can think of, free of charge. The small room in the Recreation Complex has everything from rakes to circular saws. Manager Guadalup Morales said the “original mission was to be there for the folks who need the tools, whether that’s a park cleanup or helping clean their own home.” And this weekend, the library has reached its one-year mark, so staff and community members are reflecting on successes and challenges — and looking toward the future.
Tomorrow’s anniversary event is also a chance to celebrate the success of the RTL’s $3,000 crowdfunding campaign, money that will be used to replace tools that were stolen during a burglary in early September.
Most of the RTL’s patrons are folks with some prior gardening or construction experience, but after getting their sea legs, library staff are looking to expand their clientele.
But Morales, who was away at the time of the burglary, says that the break-in has been a sort of blessing.
“If you wanna look on the flip side of that, they’re gonna be brand new tools.” she said. “[And] it showed me that people are there to rally behind something that they know is for the greater good of the community.”
Sunday’s event will feature a “Tool Talk Workshop,” in collaboration with the UC Master Gardeners, a group of horticulturists out of UC Berkeley. During the anniversary party, attendees will learn gardening fundamentals and have a chance to bask in the glow of the library’s year of community service.
And now that tools have been replaced, RTL staff can look to forging stronger relationships in the community “and be a staple for Richmond residents,” Morales said.
Library staff are looking to successful, more established tool libraries in Berkeley and Oakland as models of community engagement, education and efficacy. They also recognize that that this level of expansion requires funding.
“Ideally, we’d have stable city funding so we’d have someone who’s a paid full time manager,” Morales said. “It happens slowly but more sustainably.”
The anniversary celebration will be held, this Sunday at noon in the Richmond Recreation complex at 3230 Macdonald Avenue. Learn more about Sunday’s event, and the Richmond Tool Library here.