Exploration: From STEM kits to ride-ons, rockets to archaeological digs... The library has diverse toys to entertain members like Gabriel and Rob. Photo: FILE

Toy Library seeks ideas to share resources

April 3, 2020 BY

BALLARAT Toy Library’s Sally Tuck can see the positive impact the group could make to the new, isolated lifestyles of the organisation’s members.

Library borrowing is paused for now as government guidelines keep shifting, but the group is asking their broader community for ideas about how to best continue their valuable rental service safely, once homes are in a more certain period of lockdown.

“Families are in quite a state of flux. We desperately know that the toys could make a huge difference to the lives of families if we can work with people to make sure that the toys are safe,” Ms Tuck said.

“We believe that eventually, because Australia’s looking down such a long barrel, that there’s bound to be a stage where we can start to reach out, and get the toys to the community again.”

Ms Tuck emphasised that access to the library’s stock is just as valuable for parents and guardians as it is for the children in their care.

“By the time we get the toys out to members again, people will have been in their homes and stuck in a particular cycle, with young kids on board, trying to do work and trying to do life all together in the one space,” she said.

“The toys, as a distraction, will be really crucial as an assistance to study and work, for an awful lot of families We’ve got thousands of resources that could make life more doable, and potentially make the difference between a viable business and a non-viable business at home.”

Members of the Toy Library are its volunteers, keeping the organisation safe for their own children and friends. Maintaining a healthy space that provides hygienic toys has always been paramount.

Thorough cleaning and quarantining is embedded in the organisation’s returns process. Based at Barkly Square, the library has access to a big space where the team will continue to quarantine borrowed toys, keeping everyone safe.

“We’ve always had things like hand, foot and mouth in our community, where we would be quarantining toys for three weeks and cleaning them vigorously, several times,” Ms Tuck said.

“Our processes have stood the test of time and we’ve been around 40-odd years, so we’re being respectful and waiting for an opportunity to find a way to get the toys to families safely and with confidence.”

With such a broad membership, including many older people in supportive family roles, Ms Tuck said the community can learn a lot from each other.

“Grandparents aren’t necessarily having their little ones at their homes at the moment, but some of them have volunteered in vital roles with our team.

“This current period is so ‘out-of-the-box’ for us who are slightly younger. They have great wisdom to share about tackling situations and are wonderful guides,” she said.

“Many have lived through difficult periods of time. It gives you heart for the future, we can get through this.”

The Ballarat Toy Library has been exploring Zoom playdates online. Click and Collect, and drive-by borrowing are options, but the team would love to hear ideas and find expertise amongst their community and potential members.

They’re following Department of Health guidelines, immunologists and guidance from Toy Libraries Australia.

Visit facebook.com/ballarattoylibrary to get in touch.