Arlington, VA

Got a pesky boxwood that needs a bit of trimming or row of cabbages overdue for planting? Maybe it’s time to visit Arlington Public Library’s tool lending program “The Shed.”

“The Shed houses 157 garden tools and generates close to 700 checkouts each growing season,” APL spokesman Henrik Sundqvist told ARLnow. “We have made strides each year to reach more residents as we continue our outreach efforts in the community.”

The Central, Glencarlyn, and Westover branch libraries also care for flower gardens and organic vegetable gardens, with some of the vegetables being donated to the Arlington Food Assistance Center’s food bank system.

The lending program allows library patrons to check out a variety of tools from the Central Library branch at 1015 N. Quincy Street. All patrons need to do to check out the tools for free is sign a waiver, have a library card, and show proof the patron is 18 or older.

“The idea for a garden tool lending program came as a natural evolution in the library’s continuing efforts to support the county on issues of community sustainability and particularly urban gardening,” Sundqvist said of the 2014 founding of The Shed.

“Library staff participated in the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force and suggested a garden tool lending collection as one way of encouraging and facilitating urban gardening and healthy living,” he said.

Today, The Shed is open three days a week: on Wednesdays from 5-7 p.m., Fridays from 3-5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Sundqvist said hedge shears, tree pruners, and pruning saws are the garden tools patrons check out most frequently from The Shed.

The tool library is part of APL’s non-book collections, which also includes equipment for testing energy efficiency in your home. APL also opened a free makerspace in April where patrons can access a range of tools for woodworking, sewing, coding, and 3D printing projects.

This unusual collection is part of a bigger movement nationwide building “Libraries of Things” that serve communities by allowing patrons to borrow everything from neck ties to GoPros to musical instruments.

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