Begun as musings between friends over a drink, the Ottawa Tool Library was founded in 2014 and incorporated as the Society for Social Ingenuity (SSI). It began hosting information sessions at Impact Hub Ottawa to attract volunteers, and collecting donated tools at a local church. It ran an Indigogo campaign for supporters and prospective members, and before long, a small army of passionate volunteers were cataloguing tools to create an inventory and build a physical location at Ottawa’s City Centre complex. The OTL eventually expanded its footprint with its OTL WorkSpace in 2017, and hosted its first series of Repair Cafés with support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation before hosting a later series with Lee Valley Tools. [Details about Tinkering School?]
But in 2020, the pandemic rocked the non-profit and sharing community, which for OTL was further compounded by having to leave our then-home. Despite its temporary closure, an outpouring of public attention and community support yielded a new and bigger dedicated space. The OTL reopened at its current home on Boyd Avenue in May 2021, including an even-larger OTL WorkSpace. It has also since held larger events, not only plenty of workshops and garage sales at its own location, but Repair Cafés with new sponsors like the City of Ottawa, Dream Foundation at its Zibi development, and the Vanier Community Association.
Now, 10 years later, we’ve grown and changed:
- We’ve had over 2,000 current and past members and made over 57,000 loans, and we’ve had 77 different users of the OTL WorkSpace.
- In terms of events, we’ve hosted nearly 400 events, including 18 virtual learning events during the pandemic.
- We’ve hosted 25 OTL Tinkering School events with more than 140 kids: 8 were week-long camps and 17 one-day sessions.
- We’ve taught over 40 WorkSpace 101 and 201 safety courses with over 180 participants.
- We’ve hosted 20 OTL Repair Café events throughout the city where we fixed 913 items for our 2,067 guests.
- Finally, in dismantling and repairing donated tools, we’ve also recycled 6.7 metric tons of metal.
Reason to Celebrate
[Any thoughts or language on the fundraising and support we need?]
The OTL is running a series of events throughout the year. Check back here regularly to learn about how you can join the celebration!