Toy Story: The many joys of the toy library

Thursday 15th of November 2012

POSTED BY: Gabrielle Grime (WMRC Earth Carers Coordinator)

Gab - Head Shot

I have always loved libraries. Every time I visit, I have this delicious sense of anticipation: what will I find? Where will the next round of books take me? It’s still a treat to chance upon a brilliant new author or an unusual recipe book (making my partner suffer through yet another experimental cooking phase). And how fabulous to be borrowing these items where everyone can share them instead of being read once and then left mouldering on someone’s bookshelf.

Toy libraries have similar charms. I joined our local toy library after becoming a parent and being appalled at the prospect of buying toys for my daughter which she’d probably tire of within weeks. It would be all too easy to become a high level toy consumer all in the name of ‘education and child development’ - and of course that irresistible look of excitement that new things elicit in young children…for a short time.

A small commitment for big rewards

Through joining a toy library, we’ve been able to provide our daughter with a range of toys we would have paid aWooden puzzle fortune for (and would struggle to fit in our house).  It’s exciting to select toys and activities which will challenge, entertain and hopefully spark her imagination. As I write we have a washing machine, two lily pads with connecting arch bridge (the current favourite for jumping off and balancing), several puzzles, a large dolls house and a bead threading game.

As she grows and develops we can keep pace by providing new challenges and interests.  The three week lending period is usually time enough for the novelty to wear off!  And it’s an easy way for our daughter to learn about the pleasures of borrowing and sharing, too.Bead game

Joining the toy library has also been handy for having activities on hand for my older nieces when they have stayed – it has been fun for all of us to play games suited to their age (and have ‘cool Aunty’ status as a result).

Toy libraries are run by the people who join.  As a result, each toy library may differ in its operation. Part of being a member at a community-based toy library is committing to volunteer time at the toy library, helping with loans and returns. In the case of my toy library, it’s four times a year (two hours on Saturday mornings), plus a few hours for stock take. We also pay an annual fee (around $70).

Volunteering with other parents and grandparents has been not only fun, but also a useful way to swap information about local kid’s activities, events, good playgrounds, and so on. And it’s great to go to a local park or shop now and actually know people!

If you'd like to learn more about toy libraries or find one near you, visit the WA Association of Toy Libraries.

Lilly pad bridge

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