Melbourne community toy libraries at risk of closing their doors

Ellen Sandell

As a mum of three young kids, I know how important it is to have access to community services like the Melbourne Community Toy Library (MCTL).

During the past 21 years, this volunteer-run organisation has provided a wonderful toy library service at different sites across Melbourne. They currently have hubs in Carlton, North Melbourne, and Docklands.

Toy libraries are a great place to borrow free toys and for families to connect, learn and play together. They are accessible for all members of our community and are great for the environment.

But our Melbourne community toy libraries can’t continue to provide this wonderful service without support for much longer.

MCTL relies on dedicated volunteers to keep their doors open and services running, but they need funding to support their day-to-day operations. Without council funding, they are at risk of closing.


We have unfortunately already seen this happen in Kensington due to the redevelopment of the Rec Centre and the toy library has been told that it won’t be able to return, even when the new centre opens. Other sites are on short-term leases or and its future is uncertain.


MCTL tells me that they have to apply every year to the council for small grants but that they are at a disadvantage because you can’t apply for funding for the same project more than once. This means they are forced to constantly innovate and spend hours writing new project proposals, while the value of their core programs should speak for itself.

Last year the City of Melbourne hired an external consultant to look at all the possibilities for how the toy library might be funded into the future. There are a few options on the table including the possibility that the toy library could be taken over and run as a council service or be annexed by The Venny. They are happy to look at all these options, but what MCTL really needs is for the council to make a decision, and soon, so they can have a permanent home.

I’ve been calling on the City of Melbourne to support our toy libraries and while I’m glad that the council is carefully considering how best to support this valuable service, MCTL has already been waiting months for an outcome. Our toy libraries need certainty on their funding before it is too late.

You can also read more about my plans to save our toy libraries at

As always, if there’s anything I can help you with, please get in touch: [email protected]


Caption: State Member for Melbourne Ellen Sandell at the North Melbourne toy library with library staff/volunteers.

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