How It Works

The Ottawa Tool Library is a tool lending library in the heart of Ottawa – providing tools, expertise and a workspace for projects. We’re not publicly funded (like, say, our friends at the Ottawa Public Library) so we rely on selling memberships for individuals to access our inventory.

Temporary Measures for COVID-19

In order to reopen to members while keeping them, our volunteers and our community safe, the OTL has adopted a series of measures for reservations, curb-side pickup and drop-off, and volunteering to address concerns during the continued novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. You can read more here.

Frequently Asked Questions

The majority of our tool inventory comes from community donations, from people downsizing, moving, or cleaning up basements, sheds, and garages. Anything you want to donate? Contact us!

Only OTL members can borrow tools. We offer individual and group memberships or why not give someone you love a one-of-a-kind gift that lasts all year long.

Our annual membership is less than most rental companies charge for a daily rate for some tools AND we give you unlimited access. Nearly all tools are free to borrow for up to one week (only a couple of high-demand or high-maintenance tools have per-loan fees). We hope to inspire your creativity and help you finish your practical or creative projects.

We use the MyTurn software platform specifically designed as a database for lending libraries. Like a normal library, members must return tools in a set period of time or incur late fees. We work a lot with trust currency. 😉

Yes! Many projects require one or more tools, so feel free to borrow away. We only ask that you leave a few remaining tools on the shelf for other members to borrow. 😉

Tools are available on a first come, first served basis. Check our up-to-date online inventory to see what’s available for your project.

Normal wear and tear of tools is inevitable and we ask members to talk to us about their user experience with the tool when they return it. In extreme cases, members may be charged for damage to equipment. If you are at all unsure about how to safely operate of a tool, there is always a Tool Ninja at the OTL who can walk you through how to use it when you pick it up.

We have a Tool Hospital at the lending library where tools are cared for, fixed, cleaned, and sharpened by experienced volunteers to ensure you get a tool that is in working order. For excess tools we no longer need, we keep the best tools in inventory and in the OTL WorkSpace, we keep other tools on hand to run workshops, and whatever remains we sell to find them new homes and generate revenue for our operations.

For tools that cannot be fixed, we use them for parts and salvage blades, gears, motors and more. Whatever remains is disassembled into its component metals – copper, aluminum, steel – and sold for scrap to recyclers to divert it from landfill. We’re always looking for Tool Doctors if you’d like to help!

Absolutely. Safety and injury prevention is our number one priority. Members are required to sign waivers and must be over the age of 18.

We’re located in Ottawa, Ontario (Canada) at 877A Boyd Avenue (entrance off Dobbie Street). Click here for a map.

Given it’s a bit complicated, you can find a dedicated FAQ for the OTL WorkSpace here.