Borrow saws and more through library’s ‘cutting edge’ tool collection

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 15, 2019

 Grosse Pointe Public Library Circulation coordinator Laney Corrado holds a hand drill, one of the items from the GPPL’s original tool collection from 1943.

Grosse Pointe Public Library Circulation coordinator Laney Corrado holds a hand drill, one of the items from the GPPL’s original tool collection from 1943.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

 Woodworking tools like these carving devices are among the dozens of pieces that can be borrowed from the Grosse Pointe Public Library’s tool collection, which is supported by the Rotary Club of Grosse Pointe.

Woodworking tools like these carving devices are among the dozens of pieces that can be borrowed from the Grosse Pointe Public Library’s tool collection, which is supported by the Rotary Club of Grosse Pointe.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Before you buy tools to tackle that one-time home improvement project, visit the Central Branch of the Grosse Pointe Public Library in Grosse Pointe Farms. It might have exactly what you need to do the work without incurring the cost of a tool you’ll never use again.

Since 1943, the library and the Rotary Club of Grosse Pointe have been assembling a tool collection that now numbers more than 150 items.

“The library’s tool collection continues to evolve,” GPPL Director Jessica Keyser said in a press release. “With the support of the Rotary Club, we’re able to bring more and more resources to the community. We have everything from an aerator to an X-Acto set.”

Since 2004, the library has maintained the collection, but this spring, the Rotary Club of Grosse Pointe stepped forward to not only create new labels for the tools and purchase a number of new items, but also to take care of tool maintenance.

“We’re humbled to renew our sponsorship and financing of the Rotary tool collection,” Rotary Club of Grosse Pointe Executive Secretary and Director Michael T. Carmody said in a press release. “The next time you need a tool, check it out from the Central (Branch), our compliments.”

Circulation coordinator Laney Corrado, who also oversees the tool collection, said that tools can be checked out for a week, and tools can also be put on hold. A patron must be at least 18 years old to check out a tool. Corrado said all tools come with a brochure showing how to use them.

“We just ask that they be returned clean, because we don’t have a spot to clean them,” she said.

Every Wednesday, a library staffer dons a flannel shirt and goggles to be pictured with the Tool of the Week, which is a popular library social media post.

“They get checked out immediately,” Corrado said.

The library tool collection — the first one in the country — started during World War II because there was a metal shortage, Corrado said of the “cutting edge” offering. The initial collection, which was then housed in a case in the middle of the reading room, had 25 items and was created by the Boys’ Work Committee of the Rotary Club of Grosse Pointe. The purpose was to “encourage manual dexterity” and make tools available to those who needed them, Corrado explained.

There are plenty of items for fall yard work, including a lightweight electric leaf blower and electric hedge trimmers. There are also post-hole diggers, dollies for furniture and large appliances, a metal detector, a palm sander, saws, a sledgehammer and bolt cutters.

“Laney does her homework and her research to get good quality (items),” GPPL marketing and programming coordinator Mary Ann Short said.

And the collection is no longer limited to tools. Corrado said it has expanded to include things such as an outdoor projector, a giant outdoor checker set and Jenga game, croquet, bocce ball and a cornhole toss. People have rented these items for family gatherings, birthday parties, neighborhood events and the like.

“A lot of people have block parties,” Short said.

High-quality bird and star-gazing binoculars and a telescope — acquisitions that started with the Ken Etherly Foundation — are great for student projects and learning about the natural world. Corrado said each of the library’s three branches has its own telescope for visitors to check out.

As Halloween approaches, this is the perfect time to borrow the electromagnetic field reader and see if your house is haunted.

A new air quality meter will check your home for radon and carbon monoxide. There’s a gutter cleaner that attaches to a hose, so you don’t need to get on a ladder to get the leaves and gunk out. A wallpaper steamer will enable you to get rid of that flocked velour wallpaper from the 1970s.

“In this area, it’s constantly going out,” Corrado said of the wallpaper steamer.

Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder? The library has lights you can borrow to counteract it.

“(Patrons) use them,” Short said.

Suggestions for new additions are welcome.

“We’re always open to anything people want,” said Corrado, adding that the library will try to acquire an item if at least a couple of people ask about it.

For more information about the tool collection, visit the Central Branch at 10 Kercheval Ave., call (313) 343-2074 or log onto www.grossepointelibrary.org.