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Equipment without the commitment: 'Tool Library' opens in Minneapolis

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Here's a new concept (at least in Minnesota): a library that lends tools instead of books.

The first such library in the state will hold a grand opening this weekend in Minneapolis, where do-it-yourselfers can go if they need a piece of equipment – without the commitment.

Visitors to the big event can look forward to complimentary pints of Fair State Brewery beer as well as tours of the new space, according to the group's Facebook page.

They'll also have the chance to learn about the facility's lending system, which isn't all that different from how traditional libraries work: members can "check out" an item for a set amount of time and will incur fees if they're returned damaged or broken, the official website says.

There are some key differences from the classic library experience, however.

While it's free to check out a tool, becoming a member costs $55, an annual fee that allows clients access to the library's full inventory of tools. Also, members must be at least 18 years of age.

Tools must be returned in seven days.

Library co-founder Thomas Ebert told the Star Tribune the service will benefit the community in ways other than offering cheap access to good equipment.

“We can show people how to minimize their impact on our environment,” he said. “And at the same time, connect people in a way that we’ve lost over the last decades.”

The paper notes that the concept of tool libraries is nothing new, with the first one being founded in Columbus, Ohio decades ago.

According to the Associated Press, the Northeast Minneapolis Tool Library is the first "permanent" tool-lending service in Minnesota.

The grand opening kicks off at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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