The tool library: Engineering alumnus opening community tool-lending service
The son of a construction entrepreneur, Ian Froude, B.Eng.’10, has a natural inclination towards big ideas and hard work.
Mr. Froude graduated from Memorial in 2010 with a bachelor of engineering degree (civil), and spent several years working with Engineering Without Borders.
This proud Newfoundlander has since spent his time giving back to the province with his urban farm, the Bite-sized Farm, selling fresh vegetables and herbs. His newest venture, The St. John’s Tool Library, is a non-profit tool lending service.
Mr. Froude shared his story with Gazette contributor Lisa Pendergast.
LP: Tell me a little about yourself. What is your hometown? How did you first decide to come to Memorial as a student?
IF: I grew up in Twillingate, N.L. I decided to attend Memorial because I wanted to be a civil engineer and I wanted to stay close to home. My father is an entrepreneur with a construction company so I enjoyed being around construction projects.
LP: What do you remember most about being a student in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Memorial?
IF: There was lots of opportunity for engagement in community-oriented activities and leadership development. There was tremendous support from the faculty for the Engineers Without Borders chapter, as well as my own work. There were numerous faculty members who played a key role in providing opportunities for my own development as a leader, and I am grateful for that.
LP: You are opening the St. John’s Tool Library this month. Can you tell me a bit about it? How did you come up with this idea?
IF: The St. John’s Tool Library is a not-for-profit, tool-lending service for anyone in our city who wants access to the hand and power tools they need to do projects in their home, garden, neighbourhood or small business.
We are a part of the sharing economy. Similar to car sharing, we are an innovation that reduces costs to individuals and the planet. Our aim, in addition to providing people with the tools they need, is to create community, and help make great things happen in our city, reduce waste and pollution, and to save people and small business startups their hard-earned money.
By providing a place where people can borrow tools instead of buying, or renting, we reduce the cost of doing projects in our neighbourhoods, homes and gardens. Cost is a barrier to many people — middle or low income — to do home renovations, DIY projects and more.
A $50 membership goes a lot further than $50 spent buying a tool. Members get access to thousands of dollars’ worth of tools for their $50. I was building a greenhouse in my backyard two years ago and didn’t have all the tools required. I borrowed from friends and my family, but not everyone has friends with power tools. I felt there must be a better way. I did some research and came upon the Toronto Tool Library, which I had the opportunity to visit last year. I decided in February 2016 that St. John’s should have this great resource as well.
LP: Will there be a grand opening for the tool library?
IF: We open on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and in March we will have a series of open houses for the public.
LP: Do you have plans to expand to any other communities?
IF: We do hope to get to a point where we can expand our locations into other communities. We want to get the St. John’s Tool Library operating first.
We are exploring the possibility of creating a makerspace, which would be a fully functioning workshop where members could come in to do their projects. With the makerspace, members could choose to do their projects at the library or to bring the tools home.
LP: How can people join the St. John’s Tool Library? Are there other ways that people can get involved?
IF: You can get your membership now at the website. We need volunteers to help staff our library, repair tools, run workshops, organize community events and more. We are accepting hand and power tool donations of any sort. Ideally the tools would be working well, but if they need a little TLC, we will take those as well. We will even come pick them up, so there’s no hassle on the donor’s part.