Platform Updates

myTurn1

If you’re looking for updates on our platform, please check out myTurn.com

Were it not for the tool library, I would not have the tools I need

Video__The_Tool_Library_is_worth_checking_out___Local_-_KY3_com

This great story on the Community Partnership of the Ozarks tool library from KY3 in Springfield, MO is worth checking out.

“Were it not for the tool library, I would not have the tools I need”.

Local Tools 1.9.5 Released – The Best Way To Manage a Tool Library

Improved User Search, Bug Fixes & More

The latest version of the Local Tools platform has been sent live for all customers. A few especially important notes:

  1. Timezone and Hours: We’ve improved Timezone support in this release. Please log in and go to Settings -> Organization Info to ensure your Timezone, Hours, etc. are set correctly.
  2. user-searchUser Search & Export: We’ve improved the User search functionality and added a keyword search directly to the left navigation. Please note that this does not yet search the member id. As always you can export your member database at the bottom of any (keyword or advanced) search result.
  3. Reservation Request Improvements: We’ve improved the messaging and notifications for the “reservations requests”. Please note that the system does not yet enforce one reservations per time period, but we do add a red warning to any item added to a shopping cart that has an upcoming reservation.  You can enable reseravtion request support in your Organization Options.

Many of the changes are under the covers, and there were over 70 bug fixes and improvements in this release — and a fuller list can be found below. If you have suggestions improvements, new features or better ways to engage your users and customers, please let us know!  We’re committed to building an incredible, easy to use tool library, asset tracking and lending library platform.

Lastly, please connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and/or Google+ to keep up with what we’re doing between releases.

Improvements

  • Implement a keyword search for users.  Put a “search user” box in the sidenav.
  • Add membership type filter to Search Member functionality.
  • Added links to items loaned out to Email reminders
  • Changes to calculate end of day based on the current organization’s timezone.
  • Reservations should default to non-0
  • Add a link on the reservation list to go to a pre-filled cart for that item+user
  • Display what is being searched for on the User Search
  • Make sure to schedule the email reminder job in the store’s timezone.
  • Export membership expiration date in store-tz
  • Change non-expired memberships to expire at the end of the store’s day

Bug Fixes

  • Cascading item type selection fixed for Chrome on Mac OSX
  • Canceling an item type change goes to the wrong place, gives wrong message
  • Cascading list of item types doesn’t get a horizontal scrollbar on FireFox when it gets wider than a certain point
  • Change wording on report date parameters to “on or after” and “on or before”
  • Org Admin can’t edit their own account
  • Create User (from org admin interface) does not validate the date
  • Fix autofill functionality
  • Fix sorting
  • Look at the time at which daily rentals are due
  • First time going to user details page, transactions are incorrect/misordered

AP: Need a Tool? Libraries Lending More than Books.

While this is no surprise to us, since we both track tool and lending libraries around the country and offer a tool library software platform to make it easy to start new ones. It’s great to see the AP picking up the story:

In a number of communities across the U.S., it’s possible to borrow tools, musical instruments, fishing poles and much more from the local public library. The trend expands the traditional role of the library as a community resource for free knowledge. Libraries see the programs as a new way to offer residents a chance to learn — just not necessarily with a book.

Also always, check out out interactive map of Tool Libraries around the US and Canada

mini-map

 

 

$2,000+ to Help Start a Tool Library In Your Community

For all those those aspiring tool (or kitchen, music, toy, etc.) libraries just starting up or looking to expand, the Center for a New American Dream is offering $2,000 or more for community projects in the U.S. (and Canada!).

neighborhood_challenge_logo

A chance to raise $2,000 or more for your neighborhood project!

Whether it’s a neighborhood garden, a community swap, or a tool lending library, the Center for a New American Dream knows that your block, street, or neighborhood has an exciting project just waiting to come to life.We’re here to help make that a reality through the Get2gether Neighborhood Challenge.

 

Learn more at:

http://www.newdream.org/programs/collaborative-communities/get2gether/neighborhood-challenge

Version 1.9: Redesign Started!

myTurn-adminVersion 1.9.1 of myTurn and Local Tools has been rolled out to all sites. The most visible change in this release is that we’ve started to integrate a number of design and user interface improvements.  We’d recommend clearing your browsers cache, or reloading if you see any “wonkiness” in the admin tools.  A fuller list of changes and bug fixes is included at the end of this message.

Over the next few releases we’ll be continuing to simplify the user interface and make it more mobile and tablet friendly.  We’ll also be introducing a way for admins to override styles and colors on your inventory pages.

Staten Island Tool LibraryWe’re also thrilled our system is being used to both help with the ongoing relief efforts and to help build resilient communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The Staten Island Tool Library is one of the first of these groups to formally open their doors. Check out their inventory!

We’re also supporting efforts on the Rockaway peninsula, in Sheepshead Bay, and other locations affected by Sandy.  As always, we appreciate your feedback and let us know if you have any questions.

Thanks!
Gene and the myTurn Team

Version 1.9.1 Release Notes

Bugs Fixed

  • [LEND-943] – Error that old password was entered unsuccessfully not cleared upon successful password change
  • [LEND-961] – WYSIWYG Editor no longer working on Org editing page
  • [LEND-940] – It is possible to browse the inventory of disabled organizations, even when not logged in
  • [LEND-941] – Nicer message on inventory/browse page when org is disabled
  • [LEND-942] – Make it possible for org admins to browse/search even when their org is disabled
  • [LEND-920] – Top tool graph is not picking up the default name of an item when a name is not entered for the item
  • [LEND-930] – Org email allowed to be blank
  • [LEND-938] – NPE at adminOrganization/show/X for orgs with no membership types
  • [LEND-905] – “Unable to record donation” message

Improvements Made

  • [LEND-960] – Use HTML5 input types on forms
  • [LEND-787] – On the “Edit Item” screen, make “Change Type” a button rather than link
  • [LEND-894] – List common countries at top of country list of addresses
  • [LEND-925] – Change date input field order to month/day/year for date of birth
  • [LEND-935] – Integrate new design into admin
  • [LEND-936] – Clean up new styles
  • [LEND-964] – Remember what menus are open in the accordion sidenav menu
  • [LEND-928] – Use lightbox for loan reminder preview messages
  • [LEND-954] – Add link to item page on emailed check out receipt so users can get more information about an item (e.g. link to manual/etc. if provided)

Local Tools 1.9: Reservations, Email and More!

Version 1.9 of Local Tools is now available – we know, it’s been a while! A few highlights from this release:
  • kill-a-watt-reserveReservations: the main feature in this release is a first pass at “reservations”.  We’ll be updating the Administration Guide and posting instructions on how to enable and use reservations shortly.
    • For those that can’t wait to try these features out, you need to enable them in both  “Settings -> Organization Info” and enable reservations for each item status under “Settings -> Edit Statuses”.
  • Email templates: Did you know you can edit the templates for loan reminders, new account confirmation messages, receipts and (now) reservations?  We’ve made these templates easier to find – just head over to Settings -> Email Templates when logged in as an admin.
  • Bug fixes: See the bolded items below for some of the fixes that a number of organizations have run into.
  • Local Tools is now a service of myTurn.  We formed myTurn to bring the advantages of “access over ownership” to a much wider audience — keep an eye out from some big announcements.
Our next couple releases will be coming out much faster and will be focusing on a combination of additional bug fixes and improved design/usability. As always, we’ll sneak some other improvements in as well.
—————————————————
RELEASE NOTES: v1.9
Bugs Fixed

  • [LEND-870] – Ampersands not properly encoded in Org name
  • [LEND-871] – Button to save on “Edit User” says “Create”
  • [LEND-880] – Payment history does not load for (some?) users
  • [LEND-881] – Can’t upload an organization logo
  • [LEND-889] – Once you tab into email field, javascript validation won’t let you leave it blank
  • [LEND-896] – Need nice errors when required fields are missing
  • [LEND-898] – Error when creating a new user
  • [LEND-900] – Error when adding a new item to inventory
  • [LEND-902] – Error in user password javascript prevents form submission
  • [LEND-917] – Link to edit email reminder template causes an error
  • [LEND-931] – Users cannot change their own password: it gives “There was a problem verifying your current password”
 

Improvements Made

  • [LEND-802] – Update description for full size image field
  • [LEND-907] – Add links to additional file/image to item page
  • [LEND-911] – Make sure we reindex when saving certain org settings
  • [LEND-923] – Make organization email address mandatory
  • [LEND-662] – Upgrade search engine
 

New Features

  • Reservation Requests
    • [LEND-909] – Add reservation button to search results and item page
    • [LEND-910] – Add reservation-ability to Search Engine
    • [LEND-929] – Hide “List Reservations” in admin navigation if org has reservations disabled.
    • [LEND-836] – List of all pending reservations for an organization, with status
    • [LEND-837] – List all of the reservations associated with an organization, regardless of the status
    • [LEND-838] – List all the reservations associated with an item
    • [LEND-839] – Implement “Next approved reservations, and next pending reservation, if and only if it’s before the next approved reservation, and after ‘now'”
    • [LEND-840] – Workflow: Organization approves a reservation request
    • [LEND-841] – Workflow: Organization rejects a request for a reservation
    • [LEND-842] – Display the next approved reservation and the next pending reservation if it’s before the next approved reservation on the cart when a tool is added to the cart
    • [LEND-843] – Offer a “reservation” button on the tool details page (and on the card?) when 1) the org supports reservations and 2) the user is logged in
    • [LEND-844] – Workflow: put a “reservation” button on the tool details page (and on the card?) when the user isn’t logged in; the button takes them to a login/register page, then to the reservation page.
    • [LEND-850] – Add a tool status indicator to flag items as unavailable for reservations.
    • [LEND-851] – Workflow: User requests a reservation for a tool
    • [LEND-835] – Verify that when an organization doesn’t allow reservations, it’s not possible to reserve their tools
    • [LEND-845] – Confirm that email is sent to organization and customer when: 1) user requests reservation ; 2) admin approves reservation 3) admin rejects reservation
  • [LEND-919] – Page to edit the various email templates (Admin -> Settings -> Email Templates)
  • Libraries vs. Shops
    • [LEND-874] – Setup/implement a new MessageSource that can give different message values for stores and libraries
    • [LEND-857] – Replace occurrences of “member” or “library” with a placeholder
    • [LEND-876] – Support both *.localtools.org and *.myturn.com URLs – and use the right kind based on the organization
    • [LEND-904] – Depending on URL for “pick a store”, only show the orgs of that type (library vs not-library)
  • Beter Address Support
    • [LEND-883] – Add javascript to switch principal subdivision display when user changes country drop down
    • [LEND-884] – Redo some of the country logic
    • Better address support will be used to support location based searches in the near future.

Local Tools 1.8.4 Released: Cascading Lists and more

This release brings a ton of bug fixes and improvements, along with a few new features.  The main improvement is the way item types are selected. With the increase in type of items (media, kitchen, camera coming soon, etc.) we needed a better way to select the type of a new item or change the type of an existing item (also a new feature), so we decided to go with “cascading lists”:

You can see a full list of features, improvements and bug fixes below.

New Feature

  • [LEND-140] – Allow the type of item to be changed, use a new cascading list to select item types
  • [LEND-740] – Member Report

Improvements

  • [LEND-730] – Provide better error message when a badly formatted image is uploaded
  • [LEND-741] – Resize uploaded organization logos
  • [LEND-775] – Improve error message when entering an invalid username on the account creation form
  • [LEND-776] – Fix Member Search by Email Address
  • [LEND-782] – Stale DB connections causing issues
  • [LEND-784] – Improve usability for tool type selection when creating a new tool, and when editing defaults for item types.
  • [LEND-785] – Make it possible for orgadmins to change the type of an item.
  • [LEND-786] – Clean up buttons for “edit item type”
  • [LEND-791] – Set default expiration on “regular” memberships to 1yr
  • [LEND-792] – Move to Three Column Layout for Library Logos
  • [LEND-793] – Resize logos to 200px wide automatically
  • [LEND-798] – Ensure correct name is used for item in admin and search if using a default from the “type”
  • [LEND-800] – Make sure item type list is sorted
  • [LEND-806] – Change request memberships to have a default loan length of 7 when orgs are created
  • [LEND-822] – Add library name to default layout search and browse results

 

Bugs Fixed

  • [LEND-795] – Convert to more recent image libraries to reduce errors
  • [LEND-507] – Multiple separate trips required to find out all the problems with a new user creation (orgadmin) ex: bad email; password mismatch,…
  • [LEND-726] – Membership type created even after error seemingly prevents it
  • [LEND-781] – When trying to create an account, user gets the message that passwords do not match even when they do
  • [LEND-788] – Date of birth day/month lost when editing users
  • [LEND-789] – Paging layout issue in default layout on last row if it is not full
  • [LEND-790] – After running a manual loan reminder for all users on a report, it says, “Email sent” on a page without sidenav.
  • [LEND-796] – Changing item type does not reindex the item
  • [LEND-797] – Nasty error when uploading non-image to image field
  • [LEND-799] – Error checking out and upgrading membership from request to full
  • [LEND-803] – Should not be able to “change item type” when creating a new item
  • [LEND-804] – Disabled users show up in the “check in/out” list but clicking on them to start a cart gives a server error
  • [LEND-807] – Some times, the due date is “today” (combination of other issues)
  • [LEND-814] – Editing Org Description gives ugly error when Description is too long

Tasks Completed

  • [LEND-805] – Change non-full memberships to have the same loan length as the full membership with the shortest loan length (to fix “today as a due date?!”)

 

Sharing Revolution Workshop (Seattle)

Want to get involved in the sharing revolution?  Join us, Cecile Andrews and a host of others in the Seattle area for this workshop:

Sharing Revolution Workshop
Saturday, June 23, 10am to 12:30 pm
Blue Building
66th and Phinney Ave, Seattle, WA
For more info contact: cecile@cecileandrews.com

The new “sharing revolution”is involved in sharing cars, houses, and working areas. They’re engaged in co-housing, ‘time banks,’ lending clubs, and local projects that share tools, exchange food produce, and even gardening space. We’re having a workshop to learn how to get involved in this movement in a way that helps reduce stress and saving the planet by increasing social ties and saving money.
Join us on Saturday, June 23 from 10 am to 12:30 pm at the PNA. It’s free, and you can join an ongoing group afterwards.

We’ll be on hand to answer any questions  about starting and running lending libraries, as well as to discuss all the other great opportunities for sharing.  We are looking forward to seeing you there!

How to Start a Lending Library Part 1: Insurance and Operations

It’s amazing how many inquiries we get every week from all over the country (and the world!) from people wanting to start a tool or other type of library.  Once someone hears about “libraries that lend out tools rather than books,” they start to dream of having access to a thousand tools without having to store and maintain them all personally. However, that blissful moment is often rapidly succeed by the thought, “do I really want to take on the liability of lending things to people with which they can accidentally cut off their body parts?”

Insurance & Legal

It is strongly recommended that if you will be loaning out tools, you take some basic precautions to protect yourself. There are insurance companies (including Philidephia) that will provide general liability insurance to tool libraries and workshops for about $600 to $700 per year.  If your library is connected to a parent organization (non-profit, business, etc.) then you can also talk with your existing insurance agency about adding a rider or amendment for your tool library operations.

A number of libraries also have provided their member agreements and liability waivers online, so you have a starting point for creating your own.  While none of us love dealing with the liability and legal issues, it is important to set things up right from the start to protect yourself and the valuable community resource you’re building. There are even legal services that will offer pro-bono services to help look over your documents and make sure you’re protected.

For those people not scared off by the liability issues, the second most common question we receive is “how do we actually manage membership, inventory and run the library?”

Inventory & Operations

If you were starting your tool library 20 years ago, or even three years ago, your options to manage memberships, inventory and loans were not ideal.  They included “home grown” systems (paper ledger, spreadsheets, etc.), clunky “book library” software, or rental management software. For example, the West Seattle Tool Library has developed a slightly larger than average tool library with about 700 members, over 1,000 tools, and as many as 200 tools out on loan at any given time.  If they tried to manage this volume with inappropriate tools, it would put tremendous stress on their part time staff and volunteers, as well as, make management of the library nearly impossible with relatively limited resources.

Luckily, today there are  solutions designed specifically for managing tool and lending libraries including out own Local Tools web based service.  Local Tools allows you to manage members, inventory, loans, and track money, whiling embedding some of the “best practices” of running a lending library right into the systems.  Lending library management systems take the drudgery out of the process by handling everything from automatically emailing loan reminders, to displaying inventory online and tracking late fees. If you are thinking about starting a tool or lending library, and we are biased, we’d strongly recommend you check out (pun intended) both of these options.

While there can be risks to starting a tool library, and work in running it, the reward of building a community where everyone has affordable access to the tools and skills to fix, maintain and make things is incredibly rewarding.

Our next post will talk about other types of lending libraries, and our early experiences working with Kitchen Share SE (Portland), and how to get a “Kitchen Tool” library running in your area.

Tool Library Resources

Want to get started now?  There are a number of resources to help you get going:

Tool Library Starter Kit – Local Tools, in conjunction with Share Starter and the West Seattle Tool Library have put together a “Starter Kit” to help other communities get a lending library going. I reduces the time necessary in dealing with potentially complicated details by providing sample documents such as Sample Lease Agreements and Sample Delinquency Letters.

MAKE: How to Start a Tool Lending Library – this blog post was co-written by our own Gene Homicki, with Zero to Maker author, David Lang.  David outlines how a tool library can help provide a rallying point for the maker movement in your community.

Shareable.net’s “How to Start a Tool Lending Library” – Patrick Dunn at the West Seattle Tool Library and Shareable put together a wonderful blog post on the subject. It includes interviews with a number of experienced operators as well as new entrants. The post adds focuses on answering the “why?” question about Lending Libraries.

Guide to Sharing – The Center for a New American Dream. in collaboration with Shareable.net, put out a Guide to Sharing, which includes a 10-Step guide to starting a Tool Library.

MAKE: How to Start a Tool Lending Library – this blog post was co-written by our own Gene Homicki, with Zero to Maker author, David Lang.  David outlines how a tool library can help provide a rallying point for the maker movement in your community.