Toy library finds new, larger home
By Matt Harvey
A new 100sqm toy library has set up in North Melbourne thanks to support from the City of Melbourne after the previous site in Kensington closed, helping one thrifty local save $10,000.
The toy library was relocated to the Hotham Hub Children’s Centre in early October due to the previous toy library site, the Kensington Community Recreation Centre, recently closing for redevelopment.
Community Toy Library (CTL) president Emily Corcoran said she was “very grateful” for the assistance from the council.
“Because there’s no space in Kensington to put a toy library, the council has very generously given us this incredible space in North Melbourne,” Ms Corcoran said.
The toy library is a space for parents to borrow toys for their children for a two-week period allowing low income families and families with small storage space to have a variety of toys accessible to their children.
Toys are currently aimed at children aged from birth to six or seven years old, but the CTL is aiming to expand its range of board games for older children and adults as well.
There are currently three toy library locations including Carlton, Docklands, and the new North Melbourne site.
Ms Corcoran said she also loved bringing her two children along to the toy library.
“I live in a two-bedroom apartment, and one of the reasons I joined the toy library is because in a two-bedroom apartment, you have limited storage,” she said.
“In the last five years I have borrowed $10,000 worth of toys, and so that’s a whole lot of toys we haven’t had to purchase, I haven’t had to store, we’ve just been able to enjoy things and try things that otherwise wouldn’t be available to us.”
The CTL has “fallen off a bit of a funding cliff” as ongoing crises and evolving situations have seen the funding that the library usually is able to gain via grants go to other projects.
“We’re currently not being funded at all by the CoM and we’re in negotiations with them about what that might look like going forward,” Ms Corcoran said.
Toy libraries are reliant on the generosity of the local community, with roughly 90 per cent of the toys in the library being donated, helping the library meet one of its major goals – reducing waste.
Ms Corcoran hopes that the negotiations with the council can find more stable support for the toy library.
“Realistically, $100,000 would give us four amazing toy libraries, which in comparison to the cost of what we spend on fireworks or something, is a drop in the ocean for an incredible benefit year round for families,” she said.
CTL is looking to its local community and members for support as it opens its new location.
The organisation is offering discounts to new members and encouraging people who use the service to write to Lord Mayor Sally Capp to let her know about the difference the toy library has made to their lives.
“If people want to help, the best way to do that is to contact council, so the council knows the service is valued but if they want to donate or volunteer we’d appreciate that as well,” Ms Corcoran said.
The toy library will be operating with click and collect services until COVID restrictions ease •
Caption: Community Toy Library resident Emily Corcoran with her toddler, Rosalie and son Edwin, with Merinda Miles.