Arnada ‘library’ gets to work

$600 grant enables group to stock tools for residents to borrow for projects in boundaries

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter



Arnada residents in need of not-oft-used yard equipment don’t have to look any farther than a neighbor’s garage.

The neighborhood association recently revived a program it offered 25 years ago: an Arnada tool-lending library.

Building a fence? The library has equipment to help you dig holes for the fence posts. Got a tree in need of pruning? The library has an orchard ladder to help you reach the branches. The library also has a heavy-duty saw you can use to cut the branches.

The cache of community tools, purchased with a grant from the city of Vancouver, is stored in the neighborhood.

“The thought has been kicked around a whole lot in neighborhoods,” said Jim Girard, chairman of the Arnada Neighborhood Association. “It just didn’t work out.”

That includes 25 years ago in the Arnada neighborhood.

The neighborhood had an informal tool library, including a wood chipper and a few other insignificant tools, Girard said. But after a few years passed — and after dealing with some issues with the electrical equipment — the tool library fell by the wayside. Nobody knows what happened to the tools, Girard said.

Then a few years ago, neighborhood officials started talking about starting a new tool-lending library. The neighborhood association received a $600 grant and decided to use the money to get the new library up and running. They polled the neighborhood to see what type of equipment people wanted and headed to the Hi-School Hardware Ace on Main Street, said Suze Marshall, who served as the association chair at the time.

“We try to purchase as much as we can from our neighborhood,” she said.

Neighborhood officials purchased a variety of yard tools and ladders. They stayed away from the small hand tools, believing that most homeowners would already own those items, and avoided power tools since they don’t have anyone to provide repairs, Girard said.

Instead, they focused on yard equipment people may not have in their own garage.

They equipped the tool library with a post-hole digger, a couple ladders of varying size, a wheelbarrow, a 14-gauge electrical cord, a brush and grass cutter, pruning tools, a bow saw and various other tools.

Residents of the neighborhood have also donated their own tools — such as shovels, rakes, brooms and a 5-pound sledgehammer — to the library.

This summer, the association used the last of the grant money to add a couple more items, including another post-hole digger — an in-demand item this summer — another ladder and a 12-volt battery charger, Girard said.

“We used every nickel and dime up,” he said.

Borrowing the equipment is easy. Any resident in the Arnada Neighborhood Association is free to check out tools.

Residents simply send an email request and make arrangements to pick up the tools. Before checking out tools, residents have to agree to a few simple rules — such as only using the equipment on properties within the neighborhood — and provide their contact information.

Equipment is checked out for one week, but the borrowing time can be extended as long as nobody else is waiting for the tool.

So far, everything has gone smoothly, and the tools have gotten plenty of use in the neighborhood.

“It’s busy all the time,” Marshall said. “It’s really pretty cool.”

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546;;;