The Libraries Have the Tools You Need (No, Really, We have a Real Tool Library!)

September 6, 2022

by Abby Winterburn, Libraries Communications Assistant

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries are constantly evolving to improve the user experience. This means taking unique approaches to services and resources. One example is the Tool Library at College Library.

The Tool Library was developed with the help of university students.

“The idea for the Tool Library came from our student staff,” said Brooke Schenk, the Campus Libraries Curricular Content Librarian. “We took suggestions from our suggestion cards located on the front desk and our student workers,” she said, “That’s where the idea stemmed from.”

You may be wondering how the Tool Library works. Well, it’s pretty simple.

“You come in with your Wiscard and check anything out for the loan period of three days,” commented Schenk. Users can browse the products via the library’s catalog or by going directly to the reference desk near where the tool shed stands and take a look.

“Certain items are always checked out, specifically the button makers,” noted Schenk. Some other popular items include hand tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, and anything else you usually find in a toolbox.

Since the library already had a built-in check-out system, it was easy to incorporate supplies – even ones that wouldn’t usually be at a library.

“If you’re in your dorm, you can get a screwdriver from the front desk, but many people don’t live on-campus dorms,” said Schenk. “So, we’re always trying to provide access to a broader group.”

When asked about what the plans are for the future, Schenk noted, “We are going to be looking at our lending policies. For example, whether the loan period of three days working, or does it need to be changed.”

The Tool Library has been open for about a year, and like everything else, the staff are always open to suggestions. They enlisted the assistance of a graduate student working with the library since the beginning of the project.

“The student did a big environmental scan, and that’s when we found out that many public libraries and not as many university libraries were implementing this tool,” Schenk commented.

After completing the survey, the graduate student reached out to academic libraries incorporating similar tool libraries to gather ideas and information that would be useful for the future.

So, if you’re in need of more than just the academic tools to get you through the semester (which the Libraries have ALL of your tools on that front), come on down, and check out something from the Tool Library. We’re here, with whatever you may need.