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Borrow & build!

Meet Darren Cotton, Buffalo resident and President & Founder of The Tool Library. This library is an all-volunteer nonprofit tool-lending library located off of Main Street in Buffalo’s University Heights neighborhood. Cotton, now a young man in his 30s, was first struck by the need for such an organization while he was a graduate student at the University of Buffalo, pursuing his Master’s degree in Urban Planning.

Darren Cotton, President and Founder of the Tool Library in front of tools on the wall in the building.

“I experienced a landlord who was not the greatest at responding to issues, so my roommates and I started fixing things around the apartment with limited budget,” recalled Cotton. “This got me thinking about the need for a community-based resource where people could borrow the tools they needed to fix their own homes, grow their own food, and more. That was the genesis of The Tool Library.”

Cotton began researching the idea and found “a really wonderful community of people” who had already started tool libraries around the globe and who gave him a real sense of what a tool library would look like and how it would run. He began raising start-up funds, and in 2011, The Tool Library opened its doors for the first time under the umbrella of the University Heights Collaborative, becoming its own 501(c)3 in 2018.