Toy library proposal gains momentum in Bayside

Bayside Council investigates toy libraries to reduce landfill waste and ease financial pressure on families.

Bayside Council is considering investing in toy libraries, with a motion passing to investigate what similar initiatives currently exist in the local area.

A toy library – like a community book library, but for toys – aims to give local children access to a plethora of toys while easing cost-of-living pressures for parents and reducing the number of unwanted children’s toys entering landfill.

Cr Jo Jansyn proposed the successful motion off the back of a motion by Cr Greta Werner, who suggested a feasibility study into a council-funded toy library, which failed to pass.

“I’m a supporter of toy libraries and I utilised one when my child was younger,” said Cr Jansyn.

“But I think we need to take it back a step even further…I’d like to table a foreshadowed motion that council investigates what libraries currently exist in Bayside and report this to the committee prior to any feasibility study being undertaken.”

Community-focused not-for-profit South Eastern Community Connect (SECC) already boasts a toy library in Mascot, with over 1000 toys available for all ages.

SECC Mascot toy library. Image: Supplied

For $40 a year, parents can access up to six of these toys every fortnight, with the option to borrow up to 20 toys for birthdays, holidays and events.

“With the membership, parents get unlimited access. They can borrow and return as much as they want,” said toy librarian and family support worker Genie Kang.

“It’s really important for children's development, it’s not just for fun, they learn from the toys, and they encourage children to engage with other family members.”

The extensive toy collection is currently used by over 100 local families, offering something for infants, under 10s and early teens and toys in languages other than English. It’s one of over 380 toy libraries across Australia.

“[The library] is helping the community; we support vulnerable families and their children…if they can’t pay the annual fee, we can also organise free memberships,” said Kang.

Inspired by this successful initiative, Cr Werner hopes the council can play a role in setting up additional toy libraries for the Bayside community.

“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,” she said.

Concerns over the cleaning and maintenance costs of a council-run toy library were also raised.

“I’m all for toy libraries…but I think we need to be physically and mentally aware of whether there is any potential for the transmission of a virus,” said Cr Jennifer Muscat.

“Once the toys have been used, how much does it cost to clean them?”

“Council would need to consider the resourcing required to operate a toy library, including a substantial space for storage, hygiene requirements, safety checks and breakages,” said council general manager, Meredith Wallace.

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