The Northeast Portland Tool Library is an interesting community effort which answers these kinds of questions. It makes home improvement and gardening tools available to residents of Northeast Portland, much like people check out books from a library, late fees included. It's very community centric, and operated out of the basement of a church!
That makes me wonder, is this a model which will become popularized over time? Now that ebooks and tablets are shredding the paper book markets, will the next community libraries store tools?
Btw, you might want to also check out my related post about TechShop, a new club model place to get access to cutting edge machining and design tools.
Update: There's a Wikipedia page listing a number of tools libraries.
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