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Bayside Council rejects proposal for Council-backed toy library

Funding and competition concerns were cited as reasons for the decision at the City Services Committee meeting.

The SECC is home to Bayside’s toy library. Photo: SECC

Bayside Council’s City Services Committee has deemed the introduction of a council-backed toy library not feasible despite support from local community group South Eastern Community Connect (SECC).

The City Services Committee’s report identified five key challenges in establishing and administering toy libraries: funding, difficulties disposing broken toys, cleaning costs, storage space and additional labour costs.

Another contention raised by the City Services Committee at the July 5 meeting was that SECC already runs a toy library in Mascot.

“The recommendation is that we do not directly compete with South [Eastern] Community [Connect] in the operation of that toy library, that it wouldn’t be feasible for council.

“It’s actually quite costly and South [Eastern] Community [Connect] really rely on the funds that they generate from the toy library to provide services to the community so we’d be operating in competition with one of our own community services,” reported a council officer to the committee.

However, SECC toy librarian Bambee Lim says more toy library initiatives are vital for the community.

“Recently the cost of living has kept increasing. So it's affecting a lot of families that can't really afford to buy toys or anything, even some of our families can't even afford to pay for [our] membership fee.

“In terms of competition, in a community area if you have more toy libraries, of course, the community members will benefit. And actually, we honestly don't generate any profit from running the toy library. Even now, we have no more funding, and we are looking for funding, looking for sponsorships to continue to run our toy library,” Lin said.

Whilst an official feasibility analysis on the matter was rejected by council, a motion proposed by Cr Jo Jansyn to create a report outlining what toy libraries currently exist in Bayside was passed on April 26.

“I’m a supporter of toy libraries and I utilised one when my child was younger,” said Cr Jansyn at the council meeting on April 26.

“It’s wonderful that there is a toy library on the eastern side [of the bay], but we may also want one on the western side,” said Cr Greta Werner at the time.

In preparation for the report, council contacted several organisations and councils regarding what toy libraries are currently in the area to gather information on the service.

Membership with SECC’s toy library is currently $40 per annum, allowing members to borrow up to six toys per fortnight from its range of over 1000 toys. SECC’s toy library team comprises two primary staff members, with additional help from staff for cleaning and a student volunteer.

“There are budgetary, administrative and risk considerations for Council’s to directly establish and run a toy library service. There is no evidence of high demand for Council to run the service as evidenced through the 1300 community surveys received during the library review and library strategy development,” read the City Services Committee report.

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