For a long time I had intermittently seen a sign in front of the local library branch saying “Papamoa Toy Library – Now Open.” Other days the sign would be gone. What was this mysterious toy library? So I had to find out.
Toy libraries are exactly what they sound like; they are libraries where children can check out toys, rather than books. In New Zealand, they are privately run organizations often loosely affiliated with regular libraries. They usually contain a wide variety of toys generally for children age 1-8 including baby toys, games and puzzles, dolls, trucks, cars, building toys and various carts and scooters. The items can be checked out for two weeks at a time for a small fee usually about $1. There is a small enrollment fee and members are asked to work several hours in the library every few months.
Not a bad idea, huh? Kids can readily get tired of a particular toy and toys (especially here) can be expensive to buy. This way a child can play with a toy for a few weeks and decide if he or she likes it, and also be exposed to a wide variety of toys.
Parents are asked to bring the toys back in clean condition and according to the toy librarian on duty the day I visited this is not generally a problem.
As a matter of record, according to the Toy Library Federation NZ, the first toy library was actually opened in Los Angeles in 1935 during the Great Depression. Currently toy libraries exist in such countries as Sweden, Norway, UK, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and Russia.
And in case you who missed it, World Play Day was on May 28th!