Toy lending library

ToysIf there is one thing I remember from when I was a young pup, it was my all too fast boredom with toys that I accumulated. I would eagerly anticipate a trip to the toy store so I could pick out a new toy, only to have it lose its appeal in about two weeks. One Christmas I was so psyched to get Laser Tag, but upon receiving it I realized that those slick commercials made the thing look so much cooler than it actually was. Laser Tag found a quick exit from my toy rotation and it stayed in the basement for quite some time.

Fast forward 20-plus years later, and I find my daughter in the same boat. Yes, she’s younger than I was when I lusted for my very own Laser Tag set, but she definitely gets bored of the many toys that she has at her disposal. We luckily have a great service within walking distance of our home, the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library, to help curb the toy accumulation problem. It lets little ones play with all of the library’s toys, and they can check toys out and take them home if they like. The service is very inexpensive and it is operated by an all-volunteer staff.

Hopefully, your city or town has something very similar (if not, check out our second post today, which discusses a national toy lending program). For those of you who want to curb the accumulation of more toys, this is a great alternative to purchasing toys that lose their appeal in a few weeks.

15 Comments for “Toy lending library”

  1. posted by Natalie on

    A very cool idea- but I worry about germs. Seems like you would have to spend a lot of time sanitizing considering most toys seem to find their way into kids’ mouths!

  2. posted by Beth on

    They just highlighted something similar to this on one of the morning talk shows this morning… web based with a wish list similar to a netflix structure.

  3. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Beth — We talk all about the web-based service in the second post today … stay tuned to 10:30 a.m. EST. 🙂

  4. posted by alice on

    you know, you’ve reminded me! when i was a kid, any time i went to visit my grandma the first stop we’d make would be the toy room at the madison (NJ) library. she has a small house and didn’t want to keep tons of toys around, so this service allowed her to borrow a few fantastic things for her grandkids to play with when we were in town, and then return them after she had returned us! heh.

    and the toys were always amazing… nice sturdy thick wood ride-on stuff, blocks, trains, etc. heaven!

    and ya know what… we just weren’t that worried about germs. nana would usually give them a quick wipe-down with a damp cloth and maybe some murphy’s oil soap when we picked them up and just before we dropped them off. i know many parents these days wouldnt be comfortable with a wooden “shared” toy even if it had been autoclaved beforehand! but i gotta say… my brothers and i are still here, and doing just fine! i don’t buy into all this hyper-germ-phobic stuff 😉

  5. posted by Lori on

    Many a number of libraries offer this service, too. For example, the Cuyahoga County Public Library:

    @Natalie: It is my understanding that most programs clean the toys between lendings, so they’re probably cleaner than anything else kids are exposed to out in the world.

  6. posted by Mer on

    @Alice and Lori – RIGHT ON

  7. posted by Amy on

    Our local library offers this and it is so great! You can flip through a catalog of toys and pick something to take home with you. It has been a huge lifesaver for bored children and long days indoors in the winter.

  8. posted by Melissa on

    My city (Rochester, NY) is lucky enough to have a fabulous toy library. It has everything you could imagine, including outdoor play stuff (I’m talking play houses, sports stuff, everything!). Unfortunately Rochester is a shockingly violent city for its size with frequent shootings taking place. The library is located in an area that I am just not comfortable bringing my kids to. I take pleasure in the fact that it is where it is, however, because it serves the population that most needs its services. I used to love seeing home day care workers bring their troops to the toy library for a “field trip.” Although I don’t use its services anymore I am pleased that it is there for those who truly need it.

  9. posted by STL Mom on

    My children are so overprivleged that we have a “toy library” in our basement. If the kids want their megablocks or legos or Lincoln Logs, then another toy has to be put away in the storage area so they can take the desired toy out. Therefore only one toy with a million pieces is being played with at any time.

  10. posted by Ryan on

    This is amazing. Who knew services like this existed?

    As a kid who grew up with a “toy library” in the basement, I can see the potential. My parents still keep their toy room (yes, an entire room for toys!) around even though all kids are in college. I assume they have such a huge investment they want to try and get two generations worth out of the stuff.

  11. posted by Pat on

    Hey, that’s just down the street! I don’t have kids of my own but I’ll definitely tell some burgher moms about it.

  12. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    A similar idea is the toy co-op:

  13. posted by Lisa on

    Where we used to live (College Station, Tx), I volunteered at a Toy Library. We got “credit” for volunteering and took several toys at a time for 2 week periods. It was a great place to get big toys, like riding toys for a while. It was also a good place to try out a toy before we bought it. Another thing I remember is that they had a large number of puzzles, which my son loved. After doing a puzzle once or twice, he was bored with it, so I hated to spend money on them and second hand you never knew if a piece would be missing.

    I also remember we cleaned with a vinegar/water solution so as to not expose the kids to harsh chemicals. We kept the toys very clean – our own kids were going to be using them at some point!

  14. posted by Dream Mom on

    Lekotek has a toy lending libary for special needs children. It has been around for years and we used to check out toys for my son when he was young. They had regular toys and adaptive toys; often times adaptive toys are too expensive to purchase (Some cost $249 just for one toy!). UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) also had a toy lending library that my son just loved. He really liked some of their adaptive toys.

    I think toy libaries make sense for all kids. It helps keep the clutter down. And if they really like something, then you can purchase it and know it was money well spent.

  15. posted by WilliamB on

    Or put kids’ toys away for a while. Or trade with friends, neighbors, classmates. Or sell some to finance new ones. Or freecycle. There are lots of options.

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