Alicia Polacok, from Resourceful PDX partner Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, kicked off the New Year with a visit to the PDX Toy Library where she talked with founder Cat Davila about this labor of love.
PDX Toy Library is an all-volunteer community-based nonprofit organization that recognizes play as an integral part of a child’s development. High quality toys and equipment are available for borrowing to assist with the physical and educational development of children ages birth to 8.
Cat sees the library as a way to build community too, by hosting and participating in many family events that bring people together to learn, collaborate and socialize. Borrowing from the Toy Library is a great opportunity for children to explore ideas about ownership, responsibility to others, and the benefits of sharing.
She was aware of the tool and kitchen libraries in Portland, and this idea really synthesized a lot of her passions and just felt like is was exactly the thing to do, even without experience in the nonprofit or library sectors.
How does it work?
Membership is open to the public and active members use the toys and space. While most members are currently families, Cat's own work background is in Early Childhood Education, so she would like to see more teachers and caregivers utilize the library. Volunteers are integral in the library, which is currently open three times a week for a few hours. Cat has hosted events in the space and plans to shift the focus for more game and play time when the library is open.
The collection continually grows with donations accepted and cataloged frequently. Members check out different toys and games each week, up to three different toys or games each time you visit.
Currently the fee structure offers three month memberships for $30 or six months for $50. Gift certificates are available if you’re looking for an alternative idea for a birthday or holiday celebration.
Why join a toy library?
It saves money: Toys cost a lot so joining the Toy Library is likely to be less per year than you may spend on new items.
It saves space: Toys take up a lot of space and storage so the Toy Library allows you and your kids to use things when you really want them and provides a way to get them out of your house the rest of the time.
It allows for toy test drives: Toys engage kids at different times and at different levels. Checking things out from the Toy Library gives you a good idea of what engages children the most. And since kids grow fast, it means having developmentally appropriate toys available to test.
Bonus: Keep things fresh (and give your kids something “new”) by checking out different items every couple of weeks! Browse the toy catalog online to see if borrowing toys may work for you and your family.
Where is it?
PDX Toy Library is located in the Sunnyside Community House (formerly Sunnyside Methodist Church) at 3520 SE Yamhill St.
All Portland residents are welcome to join!