The Bellingham Play Library is a toy library.
Toy libraries have existed around the world for at least 100 years - informal ones have certainly existed for longer. There is no rule book, either: a toy library fashions itself to serve the community where it exists. There might be a single block or apartment building where a basket of toys circulates amongst families with toddlers or preschoolers: that is toy sharing with an informal structure. There are library systems that include toys in their library catalog, so you can check out books AND toys at the library.
The Bellingham Play Library started collecting toy donations in January 2023 and launched memberships in September 2023. Join us!
We believe that children learn about their world through play.
Adults can support this by providing children with the time, space, and materials to follow their own playful interests. The Play Library aims to help parents and caregivers understand every piece of that puzzle so children can be playfully curious about the world.
The Play Library catalog is focused on child-centered, open-ended play.
The toy catalog currently has items for children 0-8 years old, with most of the items focused on 2-5 year olds. The catalog is made up of items that are engaging for children to use, which means:
Children can be independent in their play: items that require adult troubleshooting on a regular basis are not engaging because children are pulled out of their creative focus.
The items are durable: they won’t break from heavy use or children’s explorations.
The items encourage hands-on, interactive play.
As much as possible, the items leave room for children to make decisions about their play.
Right now, the toy catalog is 100% donation based: you can donate your gently loved toys to support the library!
While a project like this does require funds, it would negate the mission to make this expensive for families, or inaccessible. Parents carry the burden of all of the expenses of child bearing and rearing, and we can create something sustainable that can reduce or remove toys from a family’s expenses. A membership is far less than a family would spend on toys in a year. The aim is to pay for the space, and the people that are needed to sustain the library.