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Fun & family support at Selandra - the new Community Centre needs a Toy Library!

by Stene, over 5 years ago

The Berwick Toy Library (BTL) is a not for profit incorporated association that has been supporting local families and caregivers for over 20 years to access educational toys, puzzles and games for babies, toddlers and pre-school children. Members contribute a small annual membership fee to attend regular sessions to borrow from our large toy collection. The library is entirely managed and run by volunteers and we currently have over 50 members.

Casey families benefit from the toy library through:

•Having access to over 600 quality educational items available for loan

•Borrowing toys that are matched to each individual child’s needs, stage of development and interests

•Borrowing toys that are designed to facilitate particular skill development in children e.g. threading beads to assist fine motor skills

•Providing an opportunity to meet other caregivers to share concerns, interact with others and make new friends

•Helping parents and carers learn about the ages and stages of child development

•Helping the environment by borrowing rather than purchasing

•Saving money by reducing the need to buy new toys that will only be used for a short period of a child’s life

•Avoiding storage issues of multiple or bulky toys at home

The BTL currently operates out of a hired room at the Timbarra Community Centre in Berwick, however it is outgrowing the space. Fundraising, as well as a 2013 grant from the City of Casey have allowed us to continue to expand the catalogue of toys with the purchase of new items according to different themes (eg multicultural, bilingual, active bodies) and targeting different age groups and abilities. These new toys and play experiences are critical for the library to maintain relevance to the community and attract new members from the local area. Unfortunately we have started to remove old toys from the catalogue, that are still in good condition, because there is insufficient storage space to keep these as well as newer items.

A small storage room that secures the toys in between sessions is overflowing and very difficult for volunteers to access, often needing stepladders to move larger items and to pile multiple toys on top of each other. During sessions, volunteers pull the bulky contents of the storage room out so that items can be displayed and to avoid falling or tripping hazards. There are separate racks for musical items, puzzles and board games.

The BTL is supported by Toy Libraries Australia and also appreciate the advice and support of the City of Casey around training, information and community grants. Many Councils including Frankston, Wyndham, Monash, Port Phillip and Stonnington have provided a dedicated space for a toy library (check out the Stonnington Toy Library and Frankston Toy Library here).

Casey’s population growth is largely driven by young families and the site of the Selandra Community Centre will inevitably be an exciting hotspot where families with children find support and connection with others. The aims and services of the BTL link directly with this community and the library will be able to grow further when it relocates to a more tailored location and space. It would be a fantastic outcome for Clyde North/Cranbourne East families if a home for the BTL could be found at Selandra Community Centre.

If you are interested in any further information about our library, please contact Elodie on 0404089854.

Existing storage room with large toys & racks removed

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