Money Advice

Toy Lending Libraries & Exchanges – Benefits and How They Work

As any guardian is aware of, children’ toys are expensive – and kids outgrow them rapidly. It can drive you nuts dropping an enormous wad of money on this year’s hottest merchandise throughout the holidays, solely to see it sitting uncared for in a nook of your child’s room by the point spring rolls round.

And worse, all these deserted toys don’t simply vanish when your baby loses curiosity – they pile up on the cabinets, on the mattress, below the mattress, and in each nook of your baby’s room, till you may hardly open the door with out triggering an avalanche.

Fortunately, there’s a single resolution to each issues: You can eliminate all these previous toys and save money on new ones on the identical time by sharing toys with different households.

One method to do that is to affix a toy library, a facility the place your kids can check out new toys with out your having to shell out money for them. Another possibility is to carry a toy trade, the place every household can stroll in with a pile of outgrown toys and go residence with others which are new to them.

Toy Libraries

Just as a common public library permits you to borrow books as an alternative of shopping for them, a toy library offers your children an opportunity to play with totally different toys each week with out overcrowding their rooms or overloading your pockets. Toy libraries are an instance of the sharing economic system: a community of individuals all around the world who’re utilizing resources extra effectively by sharing items and providers.

How Toy Libraries Work

Toy libraries will be run by people, charitable organizations, authorities companies, or some other sort of group. They will also be a part of an current public library or social service middle. Some toy libraries serve all kids, whereas others give attention to offering toys for a selected group, equivalent to preschoolers or kids with disabilities. Some are free providers, whereas others cost a membership payment.

Toy libraries fall into three major sorts:

  1. Onsite Libraries. At these services, kids can come and play with the toys on the library premises at any time when it’s open. However, they’ll’t try toys to take residence.
  2. Toy Lending Libraries. These work like some other lending library. Children can try any toy within the library’s assortment for a particular time frame – maybe two weeks or a month. Some lending libraries even have onsite play classes.
  3. Mobile Toy Libraries. These are toy libraries on wheels that journey from neighborhood to neighborhood. When the toymobile arrives in a neighborhood, kids present as much as play with the toys in its assortment, borrow them to take residence, or each.

Every toy library is supervised by a toy librarian. In addition to checking toys out and again in, toy librarians keep watch over the youngsters and encourages protected, cooperative play. Sometimes, they be a part of within the kids’s actions – as an illustration, displaying them find out how to play a sport. They also can assist steer kids towards toys which are applicable for his or her age.

Another accountability of the toy librarian is sustaining the library’s assortment of toys. Kids will be onerous on toys, so at any time when a toy is checked again in, it must be checked rigorously for injury to make sure that it’s nonetheless protected to make use of. Any toy that’s broken must be repaired earlier than returning to circulation. Also, since younger kids are likely to put toys of their mouths, the library workers wants to scrub and disinfect all toys – significantly toys for younger children – earlier than letting anybody else borrow them.

No matter how nicely the workers cares for the toys, nonetheless, they’ll’t keep in circulation eternally. Every so usually – maybe as soon as a year – toy librarians must assessment their collections and take away worn, outdated, or unpopular toys. Some toys which are nonetheless in usable situation will be bought, and the proceeds from the sale will be added to the finances to purchase new toys to exchange them. The remainder of the money for brand new toys can come from donations, grants, or membership charges.

How Toy Library Works

Benefits of Toy Libraries

Toy libraries provide a wide range of advantages for kids and their dad and mom. These embody:

  • Financial Benefits. Borrowing toys from a library permits dad and mom to spend much less money on new toys. In flip, which means that children from much less rich households get entry to extra totally different toys, and presumably dearer ones, than their dad and mom might afford to purchase for them.
  • Environmental Benefits. When an entire group of children can share one toy as an alternative of every having their very own, fewer new toys should be produced, which saves resources and power. And as a result of youthful children can proceed to play with the toys that older ones have outgrown, fewer previous toys find yourself being discarded in landfills.
  • Social Benefits. Toy libraries present a protected place for kids to fulfill and socialize with different kids. They can study necessary social abilities equivalent to honesty, sharing, and taking turns. Toy librarians additionally work together with the youngsters, giving them an opportunity to learn to relate positively to adults. Additionally, households can strengthen their relationships by borrowing toys and video games for dad and mom and kids to play collectively.
  • Education. Children of all ages study by taking part in. Different forms of toys may also help kids build the abilities they want for varsity, together with studying, arithmetic, and scientific considering. At the identical time, dad and mom can find out about what sorts of toys their kids like greatest, so after they do purchase new toys, they’ll select properly.
  • Help for Kids With Special Needs. Many toy libraries provide specifically tailored toys for kids with disabilities. For occasion, the animals in a toy farm set can have Velcro added to the underside so kids with cerebral palsy don’t by accident knock them over. Some adaptive toys are very costly to purchase, so having an opportunity to strive them out earlier than buying is an enormous benefit for fogeys of disabled kids. Many toy libraries additionally work with baby improvement specialists who may also help special-needs children alter to coping with different kids.

Where to Find Toy Libraries

Judith Iacuzzi, director of the USA Toy Library Association (USATLA), estimates in an interview with American Libraries that there are roughly 400 toy libraries within the United States. About one-quarter of those provide adaptive toys for kids with disabilities. Many toy libraries that target children with particular wants are a part of the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit group that helps disabled kids by means of play remedy.

The USATLA maintains a list of toy libraries, organized by state, on its web site. Each itemizing consists of an deal with, telephone quantity, web site, and a basic description of the providers the library presents. It says what viewers the library caters to – most people, childcare suppliers, or kids with particular wants – and notes whether or not it presents different supplies, equivalent to books or DVDs, along with toys.

Toy libraries aren’t essentially simpler to search out in or close to a big metropolis. The USATLA’s record consists of toy libraries in Hesston, Kansas (inhabitants 3,709), Decorah, Iowa (inhabitants 8,089), and Snead’s Ferry, North Carolina (inhabitants 9,750).

However, there are some toy libraries in large cities, together with the next:

  • Los Angeles. The LA County Department of Public Social Services maintains a Toy Loan Center, lending out toys by means of practically 50 Toy Loan Centers distributed all through the county. The service is free to all, and signing up is so simple as filling out a registration card together with your identify and deal with. The toys within the library’s assortment are donated by people, toy producers, and firms. To encourage kids to return the toys on time and in good situation, this system awards them factors that they’ll ultimately money in for a toy to take residence and maintain.
  • San Diego. The San Diego Assistive Technology Center, run by United Cerebral Palsy of San Diego County, operates a cellular toy library. Its van travels by means of the county, stopping at libraries, church buildings, recreation facilities, and Boys & Girls Club places. This toy library focuses on the wants of youngsters with disabilities: It has toys for kids with a developmental age of 5 years or much less, in addition to software for kids with a developmental age of two to 10 years. The toy librarian reveals dad and mom how the toys work and find out how to play with their kids to build their cognitive, bodily, emotional, and social abilities. The library mentions annual dues on its registration kind, however doesn’t say how a lot they’re.
  • AustinToybrary Austin is a toy library for kids between six months and 5 years of age. The library has a group of greater than 1,000 academic toys that kids can play with within the “indoor play space” or try to take residence. The web site additionally hosts birthday events. Toybrary Austin prices a membership payment of $35 per thirty days, however in line with the web site, many dad and mom discover this a very good deal in comparison with what they used to spend on toys.
  • Columbus. The Nisonger Center on the University of Ohio maintains the Toy and Technology Library for kids with particular wants. The Toy and Technology Library has a group of greater than 1,500 toys and different units for particular wants kids, which will be checked out for 30 days at a time. There can also be an onsite computer lab the place households can check out {hardware} and software to see which units are applicable for his or her kids. The library is free to make use of, however dad and mom should make an appointment forward of time.
  • Denver. The Northwest Denver Toy Library operates out of a public library in Denver and is staffed totally by volunteers. It presents academic and inventive toys for kids as much as eight years of age. Children can try as much as three gadgets for as much as three weeks at a time, freed from cost. As a bonus, the library hosts story hours for youths on a weekly foundation from May by means of September.

How to Start a Toy Library

If there is no such thing as a toy library in your space, there are resources out there on-line on find out how to begin one. place to start out is with the very fact sheet revealed by the International Toy Library Association. This record outlines necessary factors to contemplate when beginning a toy library, equivalent to the next:

  • Target Audience. Decide what group you need your toy library to learn. You can goal to supply toys for all kids, or give attention to kids of a selected age or kids with particular wants.
  • Location. If you need your library to have a set location, select a venue that’s accessible for members. If you’re planning a cellular toy library, determine the place you’ll retailer your toys in between runs.
  • Financing. Figure out what you should spend money on – toys, hire or renovations for your venue, provides, telephone service, and so on – and calculate how a lot money you should begin your library. Then provide you with a plan to lift the funds. Possible sources of money embody grants, donations, and membership charges. Open a checking account in your toy library and select one individual to be in control of your funds, maintaining observe of all revenue and bills.
  • Toy Collection. Start by estimating what number of toys you’ll need, primarily based on what number of members you propose to have and what number of toys, if any, every member can borrow without delay. Then search for sellers who may give you a very good worth on toys. As you build your assortment, test every toy for security and give it an identification quantity, stamping it on each unfastened a part of the toy, in addition to on the container.
  • Membership. Decide what your necessities for membership needs to be and create a membership kind that clearly outlines the foundations of the toy library. Promote your toy library by means of posters, pamphlets, and native publications. Also, unfold the phrase to people and teams who can refer kids, equivalent to medical doctors, clinics, and colleges.
  • Administration. Assign volunteers to the varied jobs concerned in operating a toy library. These embody maintaining observe of toys as they’re checked out and again in, cleansing the toys after use, counting them day by day and checking to verify no components are lacking, repairing broken toys and packing containers, and advising dad and mom on appropriate toys for his or her kids.

For extra particular tips, you may seek the advice of the 21-page guide on beginning and operating a toy library revealed by the Western Australia Association of Toy Libraries. However, as a result of this guide is written for an Australian viewers, among the particulars in it about legal guidelines and out there grants don’t apply to American toy libraries.

For an in depth information written from an American perspective, you may order a replica of the “USA Toy Library Association Operator’s Manual,” out there from the USATLA for $25 (or $12.50 should you’re a member of the group).

Toy Library Benefits

Toy Exchanges

Starting and operating a full-time toy library is an enormous accountability, and many busy dad and mom don’t have time to take it on. However, internet hosting a one-time toy trade is a way more manageable problem. A toy swap runs alongside a lot the identical strains as a clothes swap or a swap store: Families convey of their previous, undesirable toys and take residence new toys that their children can use.

A toy trade will be formal or casual. You can simply get just a few buddies collectively in your front room to type by means of your children’ discarded toys, otherwise you can guide a bigger space, open the occasion to the general public, and provide you with a set of formal guidelines for exchanging toys. Obviously, the much less formal your occasion, the much less work you should do. However, even probably the most casual toy swap takes a little bit of planning to run easily.

1. Find Participants

A toy swap solely works if in case you have sufficient individuals with toys to swap. Before you begin planning, speak to different dad and mom you recognize and discover out who’s  within the thought. Ideally, you must have dad and mom whose children span a spread of ages. That method, the toys that one individual’s baby has outgrown might be age-appropriate for another person’s.

While you’re speaking to different dad and mom concerning the toy trade, discover out whether or not any of them could be prepared that will help you with it. If your toy trade is pretty small, you may most likely do all of the work your self – however whatever the dimension, having buddies to assist out makes it simpler. For occasion, they may assist arrange the room beforehand, type gadgets by class, and pack up any toys which are left over.

2. Set the Rules

Even an off-the-cuff toy trade wants just a few floor guidelines. For instance, you should set clear tips concerning the following:

  • What to Bring. The level of a toy swap is to trade used toys which are nonetheless in usable situation. However, totally different individuals can have totally different concepts about what “usable” means. Determine prematurely what’s acceptable in your toy swap. For instance, can dad and mom convey toys which are broken, or video games and puzzles which have items lacking? Should toys be cleaned or laundered beforehand? Are sure forms of toys, equivalent to weapons and different conflict toys, off limits in your swap? Also, resolve whether or not you need your swap to incorporate some other gadgets moreover toys, equivalent to books or child garments.
  • How to Trade. The easiest solution to maintain a toy trade is to let everybody convey no matter they’ve and take no matter they need. However, there’s a danger that some dad and mom will really feel put out in the event that they suppose others are taking greater than their honest share. One solution to keep away from this type of battle is to restrict dad and mom to one new toy for every toy they carry. You also can assign a greenback worth to every toy, so {that a} guardian who brings a high-value toy, equivalent to a bicycle, is entitled to extra in trade. However, this creates much more work, so it’s solely value it if there are prone to be conflicts in any other case.
  • Whether Kids Can Take Part. Amanda Rock, the preschool professional at About Parenting, warns that having kids at your toy trade generally is a recipe for chaos, since “if you put kids in a roomful of toys, they are going to want to play with everything right then and there.” However, banning kids utterly from the occasion could make it tougher for fogeys to attend. Dawn Friedman of Shareable, a company that promotes the sharing economic system, recommends a compromise: Let the youngsters attend, however present a separate room for them to play in whereas their dad and mom “shop.” Another various could be to let older children – say, 9 and older – be a part of within the buying, however go away youthful ones at residence.

3. Choose a Time and Place

The best place to carry a toy trade is in your individual residence, because it’s at all times out there. However, this most likely isn’t sensible should you’re inviting dozens of individuals. A much bigger space offers you extra room to prepare the whole lot, and it saves you from having a horde of individuals – a few of them strangers – trampling by means of your home.

If you may’t host the occasion at residence, attainable places embody a church, firehouse, or neighborhood middle. If you should guide a space in your toy trade, speak to the proprietor forward of time about numerous issues, equivalent to the next:

  • Whether there’s a payment to make use of the room
  • How lengthy you should utilize the space
  • How many individuals are allowed inside without delay
  • Where individuals can park
  • Where to search out restroom services
  • Whether tables and chairs are included
  • Whether you may have meals and drink within the room
  • Whether you want insurance coverage
  • Whether the space is handicap accessible

Decide the place you need the swap to be earlier than you agree on a date. Then select a date when each the room and the individuals you wish to invite can be found.

Choose Time Place

4. Spread the Word

If your toy swap is small, you may merely put out the phrase to your pals by telephone or e mail. Dawn Friedman of Shareable says she despatched out a single “spur of the moment” e mail inviting all her buddies to a toy trade on Thanksgiving weekend.

However, in case you are planning a bigger occasion, you may entice extra attendees with somewhat deliberate publicity. Put up flyers in public locations, together with particulars concerning the time, the place, and the foundations, in addition to your contact info. You also can put up particulars of the occasion in your social media pages and on Internet teams for fogeys in your space.

5. Gather Supplies

To make it simpler for fogeys to type by means of toys, you want space to unfold them out. Plan to arrange a number of tables within the room you’re utilizing and prepare toys on them. To make it simpler to browse, you may designate particular tables for various kinds of toys, or you may prepare gadgets by age group.

You must also plan to have baggage or packing containers available for members to pack up their finds. If you don’t have sufficient baggage or packing containers for everybody, ask members to convey their very own. Plastic baggies are additionally helpful to have available for organizing toys with numerous small components.

Finally, offering refreshments in your company could make the toy trade extra enjoyable. Friedman says she made espresso and muffins for her toy trade to “help everyone get comfortable,” and positive sufficient, the kitchen was the primary place individuals gathered.

6. Plan for Leftovers

After all of the dad and mom are accomplished swapping, there’ll most likely be just a few toys left over. While you may ask members to take their leftovers residence with them, many dad and mom most likely received’t be thrilled with this concept, since a significant level of a toy trade is to clear away litter. So plan forward by discovering a neighborhood charity that’s prepared to take no matter toys you might have left on the finish of the day. For occasion, you may donate further toys to Goodwill, a church thrift store, or a neighborhood preschool.

Final Word

The Austin Toybrary presents a very good abstract of a toy library’s advantages in its slogan: “Happy Wallet, Happy Kids, Less Clutter, Less Waste.” Your pockets is blissful since you pay much less for toys, your children are blissful as a result of they’ve extra toys to play with, and each your house and our landfills are much less cluttered consequently. In different phrases, once you share toys with different households by means of toy libraries and toy exchanges, much less actually is extra.

How a lot do you spend every year on toys? How a lot do you suppose you would save by sharing them?

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