Millvale Library launches tool lending program |
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Millvale Community Library clerk Maria Mongelluzzo has been overseeing the launch of the tool lending program.

Not everyone can afford the tools required for home-maintenance or renovation projects, while others simply might not want to purchase tools that they will only use once.

The Millvale Community Library might seem like an unlikely place to offer a solution, but through its tool lending library, it’s proving to be exactly what many in the community needed. Through the initiative, people are donating tools to the library, that people 18 and over can borrow for weeklong periods. Patrons need valid Allegheny County Library Association cards to rent tools.

The Millvale Community Library is the first of its kind in Western Pennsylvania; there are approximately 50 registered U.S. tool lending libraries on Local Tools, a lending library management site.

“Our tools range from basic hand tools, like screwdrivers and wrenches, to gardening, automotive, masonry and power tools. We also have a great collection of bike tools, considering our proximity to the Riverfront Trail and the increasing number of people who commute by bike,” said Maria Mongelluzzo, 24, library clerk, who has overseen the project.

She said that the tool lending library reiterates the borough and Millvale Community Library’s focus on sustainability because it allows “a great number of people to borrow from a set of tools rather than each person purchasing them individually.”

“The Library’s mission also states, ‘More than a library — an agent of positive change.’ The Tool Lending Library perfectly embodies this mission: We are providing items beyond the usual books for people to hopefully be able to work on home improvement repairs or other projects,” Mongelluzzo said.

The library solicited the donations by posting the information online. Volunteer Dan Malakoff, 38, secured donations at estate sales, through his uncle, a retired contractor, and Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

The tool lending library has about 350 items.

“We’ve also got power tools, including miter saws, a reciprocating saw, routers, etc., a lawn mower and wheelbarrow, several ladders, including an extension ladder and much more. We’ve come this far having spent only a couple hundred dollars,” said Malakoff. “Once the tool library is up and running, I’m hoping that we can continue to expand our inventory through donations as well as grants.”

“We created binders that include pictures of all our tools organized by section. When patrons visit the library, they will have access to these binders and will be able to look through them to select the tools they want to check out.”

Malakoff also mentioned that patrons may search for tool availability through the online catalog, just as they would search for books. Mongelluzzo said staff and volunteers will use the same database they use to monitor book and multimedia inventory when tracking tool inventory.

Grow Pittsburgh’s Garden Resource Center, in Larimer, offers a library of gardening tools and materials, including tillers, string trimmers, wheelbarrows and compost available with a membership fee. Mongelluzzo said that the center’s representatives offered support and provided suggestions for organizing the tool lending library space.

Mongelluzzo will soon be leaving the Millvale Community Library for graduate school at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif. While studying environmental studies and anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, she interned at the library and Gardens of Millvale. She inherited the tool lending library project from her predecessor when she accepted an AmeriCorps resource development VISTA position at the library in 2016. When that job ended, she moved into her current library clerk position.

The library is accepting donations of tools and do-it-yourself books.

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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