Ottawa Tool Library

Ottawa Tool Library (OTL) is a not for profit tool lending public library system based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.[1] Tool libraries loan specialized tools for both experienced and inexperienced community members who are interested in home repair, maintenance, building projects, community projects, gardening and landscaping as well as cooking.[2] The OTL offers standard, group, individual and gift memberships.[3]

Ottawa Tool Library
Location250 City Centre Ottawa, Ontario
Access and use
Other information
DirectorBettina Vollmerhausen
WebsiteOttawa tool library


The Ottawa Tool Library (OTL) is a project of The Society for Social Ingenuity (SSI), a registered Canadian non-profit organization based in Ottawa. The OTL was cofounded by Bettina Vollmerhausen and Frederic Sune. [4] The goal is to put tools in the hands of people who want them to do their projects. The mission is to engage and empower the community to participate in sharing resources by providing access to tools and skills for everybody.[5] The OTL open house, scheduled for Aug. 22nd, 2015, will be held at 250 City Centre, a 19,000 square foot former warehouse for Wallack’s art shops. OTL is co-located with Maker Space North, which is for startups building at the intersection of hardware and software.[6]


The OTL is governed by a Board who is responsible for the strategic planning, financial stability, and oversight of staff and volunteers.



The tool library adapted Share Starter's free "Tool Library Starter Kit" [7] which includes start up guidelines, frequently asked questions, and sample documents. The library uses "Local Tools" from ", PBC", a web-based inventory management system to track tool library members and to automatically display the tool availability online.[8] The library has 301+ specialized tools from power drills and ladders to pressure washers and roto-tillers to loan to community members with all skill levels welcomed. The inventory of equipment includes automotive, bike, carpentry and woodworking, electrical and soldering, home maintenance, metalworking, plumbing, remodelling, yard and garden, Electronics and Kitchen.[9] The types of equipment include: garden tools, kitchen tools, hand tools, and power tools. The OTL is seeking cash donations as well as: hand tools, power tools, garden tools and kitchen tools.[10]


The Ottawa Tool Library offers affordable workshops open both to Tool Library members and the public on tool related skills and projects. In the Intro to Tools workshop, participants built a planter box; while in Routers 101, attendees created a cutting board.


Tool library

The Tool library performs the following main tasks:

  • Tool Lending: all kinds for use in volunteer projects, facility maintenance and improvement projects, community improvement events, and special events.[11]
  • Tool Advocacy: for the complete and timely return of all borrowed tools, to guarantee the long-term sustainability of available inventory. Staff also seeks compensation for lost tools and tools returned late.
  • Tool Maintenance: performing routine maintenance and repairs on all equipment to ensure good condition and to extend the lifespan of the inventory. This function is typically performed by volunteers and community service workers.

Maker space

Maker space are places where people perform the following main tasks:

  • to learn about technology, crafts and other kinds of making;
  • to share knowledge and skills with others; and
  • to apply this knowledge and skill by creating things.


  • Ottawa Tool Library is located at 250 City Centre. Tool donations can be borrowed from this location, and volunteers are welcomed to help keep this community resource going in Ottawa. Volunteer opportunities include: engraving, marking, cleaning, sharpening tools, organizational tasks, label making and data input, cataloging. Contact [info@ottawatoollibrary].

See also


  1. "Ottawa's first tool library is now under construction". 2015. Retrieved Apr 6, 2015.
  2. "Handy tool library open for borrowing". Ottawa Community News. 2015.
  3. "Great new community resource: Ottawa Tool Library - West". 2014. Retrieved Dec 11, 2014.
  4. "Our Core Team | Ottawa Tool Library". Retrieved Apr 26, 2017.
  5. "House Works: Ottawa Tool Library Founders Offer Inspiration". 2015. Retrieved Nov 4, 2015.
  6. "Maker Space North]".
  7. "How to Start a Tool Library - Shareable". Retrieved Apr 26, 2017.
  8. "Local Tools: Rental and Tool Library Software | Asset Tracking". Retrieved Apr 26, 2017.
  9. "Ottawa Tool Library: Inventory". Retrieved Apr 26, 2017.
  10. "Donate Tools. Donate Funds | Ottawa Tool Library". Retrieved Apr 26, 2017.
  11. "Tool Library Software | Local Tools Features | | Start a Tool Library". Retrieved Apr 26, 2017.
  12. "Makerspace North". Retrieved Apr 26, 2017.
  13. "Faculty of Engineering | University of Ottawa Makerspace". Retrieved Apr 26, 2017.
  14. "Imagine Space | Ottawa Public Library". Retrieved Apr 26, 2017.

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