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West Bloomington's Tool Library Adds Workshop Space

Armando and Ben
Ryan Denham
West Bloomington Revitalization Project Leader Armando Baez, right, with Illinois Wesleyan student Ben Nielsen inside the new Tool Library workshop space.

The West Bloomington Revitalization Project’s Tool Library is growing again—this time adding a new workshop where people can work on their home-improvement and repair projects.

The workshop opens Saturday at WBRP’s building at 724 W. Washington St.

“The idea is to have this space where you can come learn how to use tools and, over time, you can build your own furniture,” said WBRP Project Leader Armando Baez. “Your own desk, or a table, or a bench. These are all things we’ve done already, but now we have the space to do it and also educate people to make their own stuff.”

The Tool Library opened in 2012. It’s grown considerably in the years since, providing tools for checkout to people putting up blinds, finishing their basement, or doing some pressure-washing.

A workshop has always been part of the plan for the Tool Library, which is supported by State Farm, Home Depot, IWU, and a bunch of volunteers, Baez said. It became a reality with help from Illinois Wesleyan University’s Action Research Center. IWU student Ben Nielsen helped win grant funding for the workshop, which has a state-of-the-art air-filtration system to suck up sawdust and other debris. That’s necessary because the workshop shares WBRP space with the Bike Co-Op.

“A lot of the residents in this neighborhood are tenants and they live in apartments, so they don’t have a good space to revitalize their homes or store tools or make their own projects. So we thought a space would be really cool,” said Nielsen, an IWU senior political science major from Normal.

The workshop’s grand opening (open house-style) is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. After that, Baez said they’re looking for people who want to spend time in the space building stuff.

“Hopefully that will attract other people to come in,” Baez said “They can help people just learn how to use tools and how to work with the materials.”

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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