New Ballard Tool Library

The new Ballard Tool Library.  Photos: Alethea Myers

The new Ballard Tool Library is officially open. Occupying the street level of a residence just south of 77th St. on 15th Ave. NW, the new tool library, as of this writing, has about 900 tools to choose from already. Membership to this library is one option when you become part of Sustainable Ballard, which currently has 1,500 followers. The yearly fee is $35 per individual, $60 per household, plus a suggested donation of $1-$5 per tool, depending on its size and popularity, for the week that you use it. At, you can click on the “Inventory” button and view what’s in stock. (But no holds are placed online—preference is given to those who come in-person.) After becoming a member, receiving a tool use policy, and signing a waiver, you can borrow to your heart’s content.

JB Harmon, Ballard Tool Library manager, and Jenny Heins, Sustainable Ballard president, on location.

According to Jenny Heins, president of Sustainable Ballard, it took four years to find a location for the BTL, due to the lack of affordable space in Ballard. Jackson Design Build, a green building business which owns a number of buildings on the block, stepped forward and suggested their space might work as storage space. But after looking at it, they realized that it would definitely work for the tool library itself.

Here, tools are defined in the broadest sense: DIY supplies and other items that you won’t need to buy or store at your home, including those that are only rarely used. Such as a juicer, standard sewing machines, a table grinder (to sharpen tools), a dehydrator, garden tools, floor buffer, post-hole digger, automotive, high-end dishes/cutlery for party entertaining, tool books, and in the future, bike repair tools, among others. And let’s not forget shop tools. There are also a fun games and puzzles section, which is “take one, leave a different one”, according to Jenny, or can be borrowed and brought back as usual. There are also “take permanently & no need to return them” items: 100s of donated sewing patterns, fasteners, paint brushes, nails, and paint, for example. Some inventory is overflowing, such as many, many hammers.

Long-time native Kevin Johnson, right, drops off donations for the tool library. Left: manager JB Harmon.

JB Harmon, manager of the BTL, puts his former mechanical engineering skills and time in the Peace Corps in Ghana to good use here. “I also worked in a machine shop for 5 years, so it’s a really good combination of my prior experience and my values as well.” He answers what questions he can (it’s a large inventory) and beyond that, he said YouTube is a great how-to resource. A Repair Café is held once a month there by volunteers in the community who have knowledge to share.

Puzzles and games area

Jenny Heins mentioned people in the community have responded well, even before the library opened. “People in Seattle are so generous, and I think are very interested in the sharing economy model.”

Location: 7549B- 15th Ave. NW
Hours: Tuesdays 11 am- 1 pm,  Thursdays 5 pm-8 pm,  and Sunday 12 pm-5 pm