Just like reading the same old books over and over, your children may get a little bored with the playing with the same toys everyday. There’s only so much toy rotation you can do, and let’s face it – toys aren’t exactly cheap and kids can outgrown them quite quickly.
So where do you go for some ‘new’ and exciting toys without hitting the shops and spending a fortune? The toy library of course! Perth has a huge number of toy libraries throughout the metro area, and here's all you need to know about them.
Just like a traditional library, the idea of a toy library is to borrow toys for a given period of time and then return them. You will find a HUGE range of toys to borrow, including games, dolls, train sets, bikes and trikes, cars, Duplo and Bloks, DVDs and even costumes and in some cases, birthday party equipment.
What are the general rules around borrowing?
• Toys are available for hire for a given time, which is usually between three and four weeks.
• Toys must be clean and dry upon return.
• Late returns will usually incur a fine.
• To borrow, you will need to become a member of the toy library.
Image: Belmont Toy Library Facebook
What are the advantages?
• Try before you buy and find a new favourite toy for your child.
• It’s a great alternative to toy rotation, especially if you don’t have a huge amount of toys at home to start with.
• It is a great option for people who may be struggling financially.
• The cost and benefits of membership can far outweigh the costs of buying new toys.
• Libraries will often sell off ‘retired’ toys every now and again, meaning you can pick up a bargain.
• It’s yet another place for mums and parents to take the kids when you need to get out of the house and go somewhere a bit different!
• There are often new toys available, every time you visit.
• If you are required to help out at the toy library as part of your membership, you might even make some new friends!
• Some toys libraries even have an end of year party – bonus!
• Some are located in really cool places – for example, the Melville City Toy Library is located at Heathcote Reserve, home of one of Perth’s best playgrounds.
• There may be an option to have a trial membership to see if the library suits your needs. The Swan View Toy Library, for example, is holding a Fun Play Day event on 15th July to invite and encourage new members.
• There is even a toy library for children with special needs – Noah’s Ark Toy Resources and Library.
Image: Gosnells Toy Library Facebook page.
Are there any disadvantages?
• Even if you have a toy library in your area, some only accept new members when other members don’t renew, so there may be a wait list to join, although this is quite rare.
• Many libraries are run by the members, so you may be asked to help run the library, including manning the library and stocktaking – while this isn’t usually a disadvantage, it could be if you are already stretched for free time.
• Just like library books, toys and pieces can get lost, especially if you have a little darling who loves to put things in the bin when you are not looking. You may be asked to replace the toy.
• Toys can also get broken and again you may be asked to replace the toy.
• It may be difficult to give a toy up after the borrowing period has ended, or explain to a toddler why you have to take their ‘new’ toy back to the library.
You can even hire costumes! (Image: Swan View Toy Library Facebook)
Schools of Early Learning offer education and care for children aged 6 months to 6 years.
• The costs of joining each toy library will differ, although most memberships tend to be around $70 per year.
• There are also costs involved for replacing toys, along with potential fines for late returns or failing to complete the required member duties.
Opening hours vary between libraries, so check with your nearest for further details. Many are open Saturday mornings and at some stage during the week.
Image: Greenwood Toy Library Facebook page.
There are a huge number of toy libraries dotted around Perth. Here are some libraries around Perth, but for the full list, see the Toy Libraries Australia website.