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By Jasmine Cabrera
CCC Journalism Program

Camden County residents can rent out a variety of tools as well as donate any they have at the Camden County Tool Library in the Lakeland Ecocomplex in Gloucester Township.

The Tool Library, operated by the Camden County Sustainability and Shared Services, allows residents to come in and borrow a number of different tools, such as drills, wrenches, sanders, paint and nails, to use for home projects.

“I would say that 75 percent of our inventory is for loan. People can take and borrow and then bring back to us,” said Director of Sustainability and Shared Services Chris Waldron. “The other 25 percent are what I would call single-use items, where somebody would come in and just take something and they obviously couldn’t bring it back because it’s screws or nails or something like that.”

About 15 to 20 tool libraries are located throughout the country, the closet being the West Philly Tool Library in Philadelphia, where Waldron said the idea for the Camden County Tool Library came from.

“I worked at the Philadelphia Zoo actually for a number of years and I got to know the folks at the West Philly Tool Library when I was there. So when I got the job at the county and we moved into this building, one of the things that I thought would be valuable for the community was to open something similar,” said Waldron.

The Camden County Tool Library has been open for about a year and a half. Residents must sign a membership form if they wish to rent out tools and a liability waiver in case any tool-related injuries may occur.

While a relatively small program and not heavily promoted, the Tool Library has a fair amount of members signed up. “We do have over a hundred members now so it is a program that continues to grow,” said Waldron.

The Tool Library has been promoting its services at Camden County College recently. The Tool Library’s location is midway between the college’s Blackwood campus and the college’s Regional Emergency Training Center.

All of the tools at the Camden County Tool Library have been donated by members of the community.

“We’ve gotten a lot of good responses, a lot of good feedback from people,” said Waldron. “People continue to donate tools to us, so it’s an ongoing effort to expand our inventory and find out what people need and then meet those needs.”

Waldron also said volunteers are needed to assist with the tools. “One of the challenges we have is that we have a relatively small staff and we don’t have any real tool experts, so we’re always looking for people that have some sort of background in tools or tool repair,” he stated.

Camden County Freeholder Jonathan Young, who oversees the sustainability services in Lakeland, said the Tool Library helps to reduce environmental waste by recycling the tools instead of throwing them out. “It’s just one part of it to try to really keep the trash from going into the landfill and to be able to reuse it,” Young said.

He stated the Tool Library also helps residents save money they might otherwise have to spend on tools such as hammers, shovels and hedge clippers.
 
“They can go down to the tool shed and take one out for free, take it home and use it for what they want to use it for and bring it back,” said Young. “So it’s saving people money and it’s also making the environment a lot safer.”

The Tool Library is in the Regan Building at 508 Lakeland Road in Gloucester Township and is open to residents from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Membership is free. For more information, contact Chris Waldron at 856-225-5576 or cwaldron@camdencounty.com.

The inventory of tools available for rental and forms to sign can be found at https://sustainablecamdencounty.myturn.com/library/.

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This is one of several rooms that house tools and other items for rental. By Jasmine Cabrera, CCC Journalism Program

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