Learn How to Start a Tool Library on Wednesday Nov 30th in Seattle

We’re excited to announced that on Wednesday, November 30th 2011 at 7pm we’ll be giving a workshop in Seattle on how to start a community tool lending library with the West Seattle Tool Library.  The meeting will be held at the Ravenna Eckstein Community Center and we’ll be providing answers to questions like:

  1. Why should we start a kitchen, tool, sporting goods, etc. lending library?
  2. What do we need to get started?
  3. Where/how do we get insurance?
  4. How much funding to get started & keep things going?
  5. Do we have to buy the tools?
  6. How do we manage all the tools and new members we’ll be getting every week?
  7. What are some strategies for maintaining tools?
  8. and we’ll be answering other questions participants may have.

This meeting is being hosted by Sustainable NE Seattle:

Time: November 30, 2011 from 7pm to 8:30pm
Location: Ravenna Eckstein Community Center- Teen Room
Street: 6535 Ravenna Ave NE
City/Town: Seattle Wa. 98115

Please contact us to RSVP or learn more about Local Tools.


Local Tools 1.7.1 Released – Now with More Stats & Graphs

This is potentially our last release before 1.8, which will provide us with a better platform for some bigger features and user experience improvements.  The feedback we’ve been getting on the recent releases of Local Tools from some of the tool libraries we work with has been fabulous.  Keep an eye out for more updates soon!

New Features

  • [LEND-566] – Updates to the Admin dashboard, including lending library status widget, and additional graphs
  • [LEND-604] – Report by tools (per org) that have been out the most often (# of loans)
  • [LEND-635] – Add ability to browse by category

Bugs Fixed

  • [LEND-630] – Remove “view outstanding items” from the “User has overdue items” warning – the items are visible in the cart
  • [LEND-663] – Error when trying to preview reminder emails if the organization has not set their email reminder template yet
  • [LEND-674] – Can’t use quick check in/out form for certain items
  • [LEND-680] – Transaction problems related to membership expiration
  • [LEND-682] – Edit account page is missing username in title and page header
  • [LEND-683] – Error editing user with site-admin tools (MembershipFees not found)
  • [LEND-684] – Duplicate GUID in the transaction_line_item table. They were caused by previous update


  • [LEND-650] – Remove link to old check in page from various places
  • [LEND-651] – Change the checkin/checkout box to only go to the cart
  • [LEND-658] – Get rid of duplicated code
  • [LEND-659] – Add time to inventory rebuild message
  • [LEND-676] – Change wording for new combined check in/out page
  • [LEND-675] – Stop logging full email messages to debug
  • [LEND-660] – Improve search and browse
  • [LEND-691] – Use smaller thumbnails for cart and other tool list pages
You can also check out what’s new in version 1.7 or contact us about becoming a beta tester.

Local Tools 1.7 Released with New Admin Dashboard

Local Tools 1.7 has been released with a brand new Admin Dashboard.  The new dashboard brings all commons tasks to one start page for administrators.  We’ll be adding additional reports and metrics, as well as simplifying the dashboard further.

This release also brings the ability to categorize tools by “use” (Carpentry & Woodworking, Yard & Garden, Electrical, Plumbing, etc.) in addition to by type of tool.  Check it out and let us know what you think!

New Features

  • [LEND-602] – Admin Dashboard
  • [LEND-642] – Change navigation link to Admin Dashboard / Default Home Page
  • [LEND-374] – Ability to choose from a set of specific tags/categories for each item
  • [LEND-381] – Show user’s (member’s) transactions on that member’s account
  • [LEND-493] – Email user upon checking out a tool
  • [LEND-494] – Email user upon checking in a tool
  • [LEND-495] – Consolidate email from check in then check out when user renews tools
  • [LEND-584] – Automatically email a receipt after each transaction
  • [LEND-597] – Add ability to upload PDF and additional image
  • [LEND-624] – Put “checkin/renew” on cart page

Bugs Fixed

  • [LEND-578] – Email at checkout and checkin doesn’t obey user opt-out request
  • [LEND-599] – Hitting return to filter users when filtering users to select one to check a tool out to goes to the wrong place in IE
  • [LEND-608] – Edit page for attribute types does not work
  • [LEND-613] – Cart says user has overdue items, when they do not seem to
  • [LEND-621] – Background color issues with new gray bgcolor
  • [LEND-622] – When editing items quotes (and probably other characters) are not being escaped properly
  • [LEND-623] – Loan reminder emails are not being sent out automagically
  • [LEND-631] – Checkin transactions don’t keep track of the loan that was checked in
  • [LEND-633] – When using the old check in to renew an item, the cart ends up with items in it from multiple users
  • [LEND-637] – When item types have default values set, they do not affect existing items without a manual reindex
  • [LEND-639] – Problems saving default values for tool types
  • [LEND-643] – On the money report, the sorted-by arrow points up while the data is sorted descending (arrow should point down)
  • [LEND-644] – On the Money Report, the second page (and subsequent pages) is order ascending, when it should be descending
  • [LEND-646] – Some transactions for memberships have no MembershipFees to tie the transaction to the membership transition.
  • [LEND-648] – Automatic email reminders possibly sending out notices for tools already returned
  • [LEND-649] – Error when trying to preview reminder email
  • [LEND-627] – Prevent adding the same item twice to the cart when renewing


  • [LEND-615] – Update default layout to use nicer card layout that the custom sites use
  • [LEND-614] – Improve email validation on create/edit user pages
  • [LEND-616] – Generate drop shadow behind inventory cards with css
  • [LEND-618] – Replace default favicon

Tasks Completed

  • [LEND-603] – Convert attribute value (and default value) fields to MEMO/TEXT/blob. 255 chars isn’t enought
  • [LEND-632] – Re-attach checkins with their corresponding transaction
  • [LEND-634] – Convert existing data to new TransactionLineItem model
  •  [LEND-625] – Open accordion for check in only when there are items to check in
  • [LEND-626] – Show “no items to check in” instead of empty “select item” table; remove “enter late fees” when there are no items to check in
  • [LEND-628] – Get the right amount for recommended donation when renewing

Featured Tool: Cider Press

The tool libraries we work with have an amazing assortment of tools.  One of our favorites is the cider press at the West Seattle Tool Library:

In West Seattle, there are an abundance of apple and pear trees. And every fall, each tree produces more fresh fruit than one house can consume. Most of the fruit falls to the ground and rots, leaving behind a smelly mess for homeowners to clean up.
The West Seattle Tool Library offers an old-fashioned alternative to the smelly mess. We have two cider presses available to help you turn extra fruit into fresh cider. Cider can even be made from #2 apples, so don’t feel like you need perfect fruit for pressing.

Learn more about cider presses!

Local Tools 1.6.8 Released!

This will be the last release in the 1.6.x series, and we’ll be moving on to 1.7 where we have some bigger changes planned.  This release focuses on minor improvements, fixing Internet Explorer support for IE7 through IE9 and adding the start of email receipts for transactions (like check-in/check-out).

We strongly recommend libraries check, edit and save their email receipt templates.  You can do this by going to Organization Info in the left navigation, then clicking on “Edit Receipt Email Template”. Once you edit and save the templates for the first time, logged in users will be able to request a receipt for their transactions to be emailed to them from the “Your Account” link in the left navigation.

Bugs Squashed

  • [LEND-587] – The quick check in/out box does not warn when the item to be checked out is disabled
  • [LEND-590] – Issues with IE: can’t add item to cart, other form buttons not working
  • [LEND-600] – Paging by tool type in the admin loses the tool type/criteria on the second page of results
  • Improvement
  • [LEND-588] – Put warning at top of cart if user has overdue tools, even if late fee is not charged.
  • [LEND-592] – Add Google Analytics to custom layouts

New Features

  • [LEND-493] – Email user upon checking out a tool (currently disabled for all libraries)
  • [LEND-494] – Email user upon checkin (currently disabled for all libraries)
  • [LEND-569] – Opt-out option from email for checkout and checkin
  • [LEND-570] – Allow orgadmins to configure the template for the email sent upon checkout
  • [LEND-571] – Allow orgadmins to edit the template of the email sent to users when members checkin tools
  • [LEND-580] – Transaction report in My Account
  • [LEND-581] – Receipt-looking transaction details in My Account
  • [LEND-582] – Email button on receipt so it can be re-sent to user
  • [LEND-591] – On the cart, show whether and org has credit card info on file

Tweaks for Existing Libraries

  • [LEND-601] – Remove members self-registration for Vancouver Tool Library

Not Yet Enabled Functionality

  • [LEND-579] – Comment out emailing automatically on check in/check out. Need to review what gets emailed.

Investing More in Sharing

People — including investors — are learning that access trumps ownership. When you think about it, do you want to own a saw, or do you want a board cut or carved?  Do you want the drill, or the hole the drill can create?

Call it Collaborative ConsumptionThe Mesh, or The Sharing Economy, the main premises are consistent: usership versus ownership; access over excess; and experiences trumping possessions. Two best-selling books (What’s Mine Is Yours, The Mesh) have been written on the topic, the concept has been featured in every mainstream media outlet you can think of, and it’s starting to have an impact on the choices people make in their daily lives.

Read more at Shareable Design Magazine. Let’s hope that the startup communities in other places, like Seattle, start to take notice.

Local Tools 1.6.7 Released

A relatively modest release with just under 20 fixes and improvements. We had originally planned to add emailed receipts for when users check items in and out, but have pushed that back to the next release.

Bugs Fixed

  • [LEND-550] – Editing a user resets/deletes their year of birth
  • [LEND-555] – Empty/null values are displaying as [object Object] in datatables
  • [LEND-557] – Membership transitions and payments are recorded on failed cart submits
  • [LEND-560] – Items without a name are not displayed properly in transaction layout


  • [LEND-477] – Record add-time of items
  • [LEND-525] – Allow organizations to set a home page URL in organization preferences
  • [LEND-536] – Clean up and simplify the layout
  • [LEND-537] – Validate email address without submitting on account creation forms
  • [LEND-552] – Add a link to the admin and logout to custom inventory pages
  • [LEND-556] – Improve how the fee/contribution columns are formatted

New Features

  • [LEND-449] – Keep track of the user’s membership id (assigned by the organization for the user, regardless of membership transitions). see also LEND-448
  • [LEND-530] – Allow loading the cart page for non-full users but WARN that they must record a new membership (upgrade/renew) to proceed
  • [LEND-531] – Add javascript to the cart.jsp page to not let orgadmin checkout a user who isn’t full member without ALSO entering a membership upgrade/renewal/extend
  • [LEND-540] – Change cart processing so that an orgadmin can checkout a user who’s paying for membership at the same time as borrowing tools (ex: for the first time, or lapsed membership)

Local Tools 1.6.6 Released!

What started as a “quick fixes” release, turned into a release with over 40 new features, improvements, and bug fixes.  The full list is below.  We’re already hard at work on the next release — not to mention at updating the main Local Tools site.


New Features
[LEND-490] – Keep track of “message about user” in the user-organization object. This should be displayed on the user details page, and on check out and check in.
[LEND-496] – Alert orgadmin if they are checking out/in a user who has a “message about the user” (popup the alert when they click checkout or checkin or renew)
[LEND-532] – Warn when orgadmin puts a value in membership $, but doesn’t renew/upgrade, the amount goes away. Warn instead.

[LEND-424] – Better UI for date of birth entry
[LEND-467] – Add late fees to “my loans” page
[LEND-472] – Give nice error when user tries to record late fees but checks in no items
[LEND-489] – Display total late fees outstanding in addition to total late fees for items being checked in
[LEND-491] – Hide the message-about-the-user from the user (it should not be displayed on the user’s page about themselves)
[LEND-498] – Have Disabled items show up in search for org admins with “DISABLED” text at end of name
[LEND-500] – Can’t just change the membership expiration date, have to set membership type
[LEND-502] – Check in comments should be listed in the same places as check out comments (e.g. money report)
[LEND-511] – Label required fields on account creation forms
[LEND-512] – Warn user about mismatched passwords on account creation form via JS (do not wait for submit)
[LEND-513] – Make first name appear before last name on account creation/editing forms
[LEND-521] – Add org internal ID#s to custom search results
[LEND-522] – Create one form to check in/out an item
[LEND-526] – Add action buttons to top of tool and user details view
[LEND-527] – Add admin and logout links to browse pages when logged in
[LEND-528] – Initial UI overhaul (left nav, header, main body of the page)
[LEND-534] – Make sure Delete/Remove button is never obscured in cart

Bugs Fixed
[LEND-398] – Money attributes are allowed to be “” but when used in a recommended donation, it causes errors at checkout
[LEND-443] – List all members drop down resets to “Show all types” on error
[LEND-445] – Member Details transactions -> Details can provide error page
[LEND-473] – On myLoans page, paging loans doesn’t work
[LEND-479] – Confirm and fix: you can check in an item that’s already in (if it is checked in while you’re on the checkin page – “race” condition)
[LEND-504] – Admin status on user details always says the user is an admin, even when they are not
[LEND-505] – Long, ugly error message when checking out an item that was “stolen” from under the current cart’s nose
[LEND-506] – Multiple separate trips required to find out all the problems with a new user creation (orgadmin) ex: bad email; password mismatch,…
[LEND-510] – Can’t check out a tool with that has no default condition (if a condition is not set in the cart)
[LEND-514] – New users don’t get a most_recent_transition_id when they’re created
[LEND-515] – “Grant membership” on the user details page does not cause the most_recent_transotopn_id to be set
[LEND-516] – Memberships with no expiration show as expiring today on the “upgrade/renew”
[LEND-518] – Internal id is missing from search results in custom layouts
[LEND-519] – Obsolete warning on org admin create user page
[LEND-520] – Expiration set to null when checking a tool in
[LEND-529] – Add the “membership upgrade” box to the “new member” page
[LEND-539] – Trying to start a cart for a non-Full member functionality regression

User Stories Added
[LEND-384] – Display late fees owed on check out
[LEND-488] – If a user’s membership has expired, the membership accordian on the cart should be “open”

Tasks Performed
[LEND-355] – Figure out rental periods : per tool? per user/membership type?
[LEND-497] – Set the expiration to “one year after the last membership transition” for memberships of founding or regular.
[LEND-517] – Fix memberships without a most_recent_transition_id


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via our contact form, on Twitter or Facebook.

Making, Sharing and Collaboration Link Roundup

Welcome to our first roundup of recent links showing some of the great things going on in the making, sharing and collaborative consumption spaces:

If you find these links useful, definitely leave a comment and let us know.  Also feel free to let us know about other interesting projects.

DIY Heroes: 10 Backyard Builders Changing the World

Popular Mechanics has stories of how the DIY and Maker community are changing the world (and we think for the better), and here at Local Tools we’re helping them do it:


“By repairing old bikes to donate them to the needy, creating a local tool library, turning abandoned land into a skate park and other creative projects, these do-it-yourselfers are building the change they want to see in the world.

Patrick Dunn and his buddies first discussed opening a tool library in October 2009. Like many good ideas, it caught on fast. Aided by a $20,000 city grant and use of an inventory-tracking computer system, the West Seattle Tool Library opened in June 2010. Today, it’s a 220-member DIY center offering workshops and loaning from a stock of more than 1300 manual and power implements.

Congrats to Patrick Dunn and the whole team at the West Seattle Tool Library!