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Ottawa Tool Library adds a workshop space at City Centre location

By Greggory Clark on April 29, 2019

The Ottawa Tool Library is expanding at Makerspace North. Three years since setting up shop, the OTL is adding 250 sq. feet of workshop space to meet demand.

Instead of buying tools they’ll use sporadically, OTL members borrow them for a few days or a week at a time. The annual fee is only sixty dollars. Like certain other libraries, late fees apply to returns past the due date.

Inspired by tool libraries in Scotland, Germany, the U.S., and other Canadian cities, the OTL started as an Indiegogo campaign in 2015. The concept earned enough membership sales to build the first tool library in Ottawa. That initial fundraiser exceeded $18,000 when the goal was set at $15,000.

“A perfect place to offer more classes.”

Executive Director Bettina Vollmerhausen travelled to international symposiums to learn and share with other “tooligans” out there. We reached her during a trip to Whitehorse, where she had meetings with team members at the Yukonstruct makerspace. Vollmerhausen says there is “lots of potential to grow with more members… our new workspace will be a perfect place to offer more classes.” It is the OTL’s first workshop space.

A recent donation by Maker House is funding the workshop expansion project. Two per cent of shop’s retail sales go into the Maker House #CraftChange fund. In late 2015, OTL was the first-ever recipient of a #CraftChange grant, $2,248 at that time, and in April 2019 they received a $3,208 grant.

“A few thousand dollars can make a difference and help level-up their capacity,” says Gareth Davies, founder and owner of Maker House. “[They’re] an ideal #CraftChange partner… Our customers love to learn about organizations like the OTL, maybe get involved, and help to make our city a better place while shopping local.”

In the same year OTL was launched, Maker House opened just down the street in Hintonburg. Over the years, the social enterprise’s #CraftChange program has raised over $53,000 for a dozen local organizations and more than $20,000 for the Parkdale Food Centre.

Vollmerhausen is excited to “see what we can build and offer beyond our range of tool rentals” when the workshop space opens on May 1st.


The Ottawa Tool Library is located at City Centre (250 City Centre Ave, #216). Visit ottawatoollibrary.com for opening hours and more information.