'It's growing quicker than I thought': Mundelein Tool Library expanding circulation area

A go-to place for do-it-yourselfers and others who might need a tool to finish a home improvement project, the Mundelein Tool Library is expanding its circulation area to reach more Lake County residents.

Said to be the first of its kind in the county, the operation has evolved to the point of sharing its inventory with residents beyond the Mundelein ZIP code, organizers of the volunteer-run nonprofit say.

"We're far more organized. We have bar codes now," said Van Miller, a Mundelein resident and retired physical education teacher who originated and nurtured the idea locally.

He had seen a similar operation a few years ago while visiting Portland, Oregon, and brought the idea home. After navigating myriad details and logistics, the Mundelein Tool Library opened last June in a portion of the village's former water division building downtown at 428 N. Chicago Ave.

"It's growing quicker than I thought," Miller said. "We have enough tools to service other communities."

As the name implies, what is designed as a community service operates very much like a public library. In this case, patrons including hobbyists, those doing general repairs, yard work or other tasks can check out up to seven tools a week.

There is no cost for the service, but a $20 annual donation is suggested.

Since it opened, the library has 155 members, but there is a need for volunteers.

"A community is building around the tool library, not yet a full year in operation, and I am happy to see steady growth in members and inventory," said Peter Vadopalas, assistant village manager.

The tool inventory has grown to about 800 instruments, including seasonal needs like rototillers and snowblowers; basics such as drills, saws and general tools; and some less common items, such as two gas-powered, heavy-duty sewer augers and a device to lift engines out of vehicles.

Visit for information about the organization and a list of tools available to borrow.

"Caring Through Sharing" is the tool library's motto. Its mission is encouraging civic engagement and volunteerism while building skills and relationships.

Miller said the governing board of directors recently voted to expand and joined the Green Oaks, Libertyville, Mundelein, Vernon Hills Area Chamber of Commerce.

"We just think we can serve a greater area," he said. Contacts are being made and the idea is getting around.

"I had two people come in from Libertyville (this past weekend), sign up and check out tools," Miller said.

Miller and board member Jonathan Rosales, a local Realtor and co-founder, recently introduced themselves to the Vernon Hills village board.

"We've grown every week (and) have had questions from neighboring towns," Rosales said. "We're basically here to spread the word and just make this a resource to the residents of Vernon Hills as well."

Miller said future plans include seminars, such as how to prepare garden beds, tune bikes and other topics.

Mundelein creating unique library that will lend tools

Tool lending library to debut in Mundelein

The nonprofit, volunteer-run Mundelein Tool Library, which opened last June, lends tools at no cost and is expanding its circulation area to neighboring towns. Courtesy of Van Miller
The Mundelein Tool Library, which opened last June, is expanding its circulation area to neighboring towns. Courtesy of Van Miller
  The Mundelein Tool Library debuted last June in a former village water division facility at 428 N. Chicago Ave. Its reach is growing in Lake County. Mick Zawislak/
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