The build begins! Interview with Edinburgh Tool Library

This weekend we started the transformation of our underground space, ready for Friday’s opening night.

We’re delighted to be working with the brilliant Edinburgh Tool Library who are also celebrating their 10th anniversary year. Their volunteers are teaming up with our volunteers to create a custom bar for the event, whilst other aspects of the build will be supported by members of their Making With Pride initiative, in partnership with LGBT Health & Wellbeing.

We caught up with ETL’s Community Builder & Volunteer Manager, Daisy Crooke, for a chat…

Congratulations on 10 years! How did it all begin?

Like many things, ETL was born out of inspiration from others – combined with frustration at a lack of provision.

Our founder, Chris, visited the wonderful Toronto Tool Library whilst on holiday and saw the impact they were having in their community, and wanted to join his local equivalent.

Unfortunately the nearest one was in Berlin… so, with a set of shelves in his spare room; a very understanding and supportive partner; and some donated tools, ETL started lending tools from the Leith Walk Police Box.

Sometimes it’s the simple ideas that make the most sense, and quickly people “got” what ETL was about. The biggest difficulty we had was reassuring people it was as simple as it sounds!

In 2018 the Tooligans won the Volunteer Edinburgh Inspiring Team Award.  How important are volunteers for ETL?

ETL simply wouldn’t be able to run without our wonderful team of volunteers!

From the smooth running of the libraries, to supporting members with their funky projects in the workshops, to teaching classes, to helping us spread the word… Our Tooligans make a massive impact and positive contribution to our work – and always do so with a smile.

Without them, we wouldn’t be able to offer the breadth of services that we do, nor help people develop life-long maker skills.

ETL continues to expand with enterprises as ETL Cycle Kitchen. Did you ever imagine that there would be these extensions of the original idea? 

We had always hoped that ETL could support community driven expansions and ideas, but it’s important when you want that to happen that you aren’t too prescriptive – that they go where they want to go and respond to the needs of the community.

Not only is this a better way of identifying and meeting demands, but it empowers those involved to feel like they drive what ETL does. The Cycle Kitchen, Repair Cafe Edinburgh, the Volunteer Builds and the new Colinton pick up location are all driven by volunteers and communities, with our support.

ETL works with organisations such as Music Broth. What do these collaborations bring to both organisations?

Collaboration is at the heart of ETL’s approach, and we always celebrate the transformative potential of collective efforts in addressing urgent and intersecting crises.

We believe in leveraging diverse skills, perspectives, and resources through partnerships to make meaningful, sustainable change both fun and accessible.

Collaborations with other sharing libraries such as Music Broth, arts organisations like Hidden Door, and community organisations across the city, allow us to pool knowledge and resources, and nurture relationships with communities across the city and spread the sharing ethos to as many people as possible!

If finance was no issue, what would be top of your wish list?

Space is our final frontier! We have been working on our five year strategy (we have factored in cost though!) and top of our wishlist is a Share Centre, where we can run all of our operations from, with more capacity for workshop space, repair, and room for lots of projects to grow.

It will be the hub in our hub-and-spoke model bringing sharing across the city, so we are also looking for other tool library spaces, as well as locations for weekly locally run pick up spots.

In terms of tools, we would rather re-home things than buy them, so if anyone has a spare and fantastic table saw going, you would make us very happy!

What are you doing for Hidden Door’s 10th Birthday Party?  

ETL will be sharing tools, skills and time with Hidden Door to help build a beautiful bar out of reclaimed wood where partygoers will be able to quench their thirst. We loved building a bar for Hidden Door festival in 2018 and are excited to continue the tradition! 

We’ll also be building some large trunks on wheels to make storing and moving artworks and equipment a whole lot easier for the Hidden Door team. This will be a project with participants of our ‘Making with Pride’ programme – a collaboration with LGBT Health & Wellbeing.

Interview by Julia, ETL photos by James Duncan, build photos by Chris Scott.