Dr Sabrina Chakori, founder of the Brisbane Tool Library, says the tool library is at a turning point.

The tool library had its first home in West End and then moved to The Edge at the State Library, but the 2022 floods meant they had to pack up and find a new home.

“We started in 2017 here in West End. At that point, it was hard to find a suitable place and we ended up being at the State Library. The State Library hosted us from 2018 until 2022 when the floods hit us.”

“We were going pretty well to that point considering the COVID lock downs, but then, during the weekend of the floods, we got an emergency call; we had to evacuate all our stock. All our volunteers got activated and we saved as much as we could.”

At that point, Sabrina said, Metro Arts hosted the tool library at its site in Norman Park. But sadly, that arrangement has ended. Metro Arts has secured a federal government grant to set up a new digital lab space. So, while they are pleased for Metro Arts, the tool library is once again looking for a new home. Now they are on the move again.

“This can either be our next successful step to continue serving the Brisbane community and demonstrating that alternative modes of production and consumption are indeed feasible, or we could be shutting down, not because there is not a demand for a tool library, but because of the constraints of the system itself.”

“We can see already in local areas across Brisbane, small and medium businesses, cafes and restaurants, struggling to survive the high gentrification forces and big business competition.” 

For a not-for-profit group Sabrina said, the current economic constraints are even more challenging.

At this stage, returning to the State Library is unlikely because the Library itself is considering the risk of future flooding. But, their current need is urgent. 

“So, we might go back, or we might not go back in there.

“If we do not find a home soon, we might risk shutting down.”


Revenue and Membership

“Ideally, we are looking for a price that is really affordable; our only financial revenue comes from membership fees, which are kept really low, because we want to keep our services accessible. Usually that money goes into maintenance or insurance costs etc.”

Since 2017, the tool library is entirely volunteer run, and all maintenance and other services are funded through membership fees offered on a tiered basis.

Rescuing and revamping tools

The library has power tools, garden equipment, camping gear, and kitchen appliances, but more unusually, it has a pizza oven for parties, a popcorn maker, Christmas decorations and a tree.  The five most used items are: 1) Lawnmowers 2) Jack hammer 3) Electric pressure washer 4) hedge trimmer 5) Compound Mitre Saw.

“We rescue stuff from people and people donate tools, or we acquire tools from the Brisbane City Council recovery centres. However, the have had to buy a few items because we needed items with batteries to phase out petrol-based tools.”

See their complete inventory here – https://brisbanetoollibrary.myturn.com/library/inventory/browse

“In the beginning, we accepted everything, so our inventory grew exponentially. But then we started replacing tools with better-quality items so that we could offer a better experience to our users. 

“We’re still open to receiving items. People can email or contact us through our social media. We usually discuss the items and explain what we can accept.”

What are they looking for?

Sabrina said the tool library is open to being based in any suburban area; it serves users from fort-five different postcodes – corresponding to around sixty-three suburbs.

“People were driving as far away as the Sunshine Coast just to pick up camping gear for festivals etc. And even now, a lot of people drive easily for 20 to 30 minutes. We have volunteers keen to keep the tool library running, and people keen to use it.”

Sabrina said that while ideally, such a tool library could have hubs in several locations, they would still need a central location for maintenance. 

In addition to building a stronger social network, the tool library has saved thousands of dollars for members.

“Now we need support finding a new place. So, any Councillor or community keen to have a tool library, please let us know.”

The ideal size for the Library is two hundred square meters. 

“We are happy to go with one hundred square meters. We’ve been very resilient in adjusting our inventory and logistic.

“Ideally, we would need parking for at least one or two cars or a loading zone area. We also need some basic amenities like toilets, possibly a kitchenette, but that’s optional. If there is enough space, it would be awesome if we could also run workshops, but again, a workshop space is not a priority now. 

Sabrina said they are open to sharing a space with another community group or business.

If you know of a suitable space let the Brisbane Tool Library know via Email



Other Contributions

In recognition of its pioneering work, The Brisbane Tool Library was on the reference group for the Queensland E-Products Action Plan 2023–2033. which aims to guide and enable people to maximise waste reduction and sustainability outcomes for e-products.

You can provide feedback on the plan via email by 5.00pm Monday 17 April 2023 to eproductsfeedback@des.qld.gov.au.

Social Media




Related Story

Brisbane Tool Library and the Sharing Economy


Add you comments in the box below and share the story using the social media links below.