MUNDELEIN – A self-described “tool nut,” Pete Duffy has big plans for Lake County’s growing tool library.
What’s a tool library? Exactly what it sounds like.
“It’s like a book library, except with tools,” said Duffy, who recently became the volunteer manager of the library, located at 428 N. Chicago Ave. in Mundelein.
Completely run by volunteers, the Mundelein Tool Library opened about two years ago to Mundelein residents only. But a few months ago, it became open to anyone in Lake County. Already featuring more than 1,000 donated tools, the library soon will include a woodworking space.
“The potential is huge,” said Duffy of Mundelein, who has worked as a handyman for more than two decades.
The problem is, he said, not too many people throughout the county even know the library exists.
He’s hoping an exhibit at the third annual Maker Faire Lake County will help spread awareness. Free and open to the public, Maker Faire Lake County will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 15 at Lake County College’s Grayslake campus at 19351 W. Washington St.
Along with the Mundelein Tool Library, the event will feature almost 50 exhibits celebrating the multifaceted fields of making and makers – from crafters to engineers to scientists.
“I’m really impressed with the wide variety of different makers that we have coming,” said Jan Edwards, the Maker Faire producer and an engineering instructor at the College of Lake County.
The event is described as a “show and tell for innovative designers, creators, builders and tinkers.”
Those who attend will see demonstrations by school robotics teams, 3D printers, rocket launchers, airplane builders, woodworkers, crafters, car racers, laser cutters, candle makers and more. One exhibit will feature musical Tesla coils, with notes created through high voltage electrical charges. Another exhibit includes an Airigami Bubble Mural made out of biodegradable latex balloons.
“It’s really to engage the community,” Edwards said of the event. “Part of it is getting students who are younger thinking about career options and what you can do with engineering. … I think it’s just a chance to really explore and see something happening in your own community.”
With its exhibit, the Mundelen Tool Library aims to draw more people to its building, where about a dozen volunteers provide everything from lawn and garden tools to chain and tile saws to air compressors. Many check out tools that they’ll likely only use once or twice, Duffy said.
Those who use the library are asked to become members with a donation, but the donation is not required, he said.
“Since we opened up to Lake County, we really haven’t had much of a chance to get the word out,” he said.
Along with displays, many of the featured exhibits at the Maker Faire Lake County will give attendees the chance to become “makers” themselves, Edwards said, with projects featuring art and technology, kites, puppets and more.
The event also showcases the college’s home for makers, the Baxter Innovation Lab, which opened in 2018.
A College of Lake County alum, Jordan Horwitz of Vernon Hills will demonstrate engineering on parts from Teslas and electric vehicles, as well as 3D scanning equipment, high voltage batteries, large drones and more. Horwitz works as an engineer with Eron Group, which contracts with Home Depot, and repairs Teslas on the side.
“I think it’s really important to inspire younger generations,” Horwitz said.
He aims to show how engineering is fun, as well as the variety of options the field provides.
“If there’s one thing that doesn’t interest people, I always try to have something else,” he said. “I know there are many paths to success with engineering. For each person, finding a way to be successful in engineering sometimes can be very difficult. … I’ve been very passionate about being a mentor for younger kids or any age.”