A successful pop-up toy library proves its importance in Southbank
In celebration of the Boyd Community Hub’s 10th anniversary early last month, Melbourne Community Toy Library moved to Southbank to operate a pop-up Toy Library.
While already in Docklands, Carlton and North Melbourne, the success of the pop-up only confirmed for the team that there was a need for a permanent space in Southbank.
But for that to happen it would require both funding and the necessary space; something Melbourne Community Toy Library president Emily Corcoran said was already difficult with their Docklands branch being “expensive to run and not funded”.
“We would be more than happy to continue in Southbank if we can find ongoing funding for an arrangement like that,” Ms Corcoran said.
“There is definitely a need for relaxed services that support families living in the inner city and that build community connections, which is really important for parent and child mental health and child development.”
There on the day to witness the positive impact after setting up the play space herself was Melbourne Community Toy Library staff member and Docklands’ Toy Librarian Ruth Fox.
Passionate about the work done at the Melbourne Community Toy Library, Ms Fox said she was “excited” at the opportunity to do something on the other side of the Yarra River for families who often had to make the trek to the Docklands branch.
“Quite a lot of families we have as members at Docklands live in Southbank and they were so excited that there was something for them on their side of the river because Southbank has a lot of community but there isn’t much for the families there,” she said.
“One Southbank mother in particular looks online for toys at Docklands and then the father comes over to collect them on an electric bike, but he is limited to what he can carry. Having something closer in Southbank would be worth it for a lot of families.”
As well as having benefits for children, toy libraries also benefit extended family members who are involved in bringing the children along, and within the short few hours the Southbank pop-up was open this impact was already being noticed.
“Being at Boyd was fantastic because there was such a range of people and they were so excited to see what was available and hear all about it,” Ms Fox said.
“It was a great experience to have babies, toddlers, older kids in primary, parents and grandparents there and I was able to set the space up with a range of toys, including STEM toys and games for older kids in primary and for adults.”
“At the end of the session we also had the maternal and child health nurses and library staff of Boyd come and they said it was amazing, and that they could see the benefit of it and the need.”
Following the positive feedback and support for Melbourne Community Toy Library to open in Southbank, either permanently or through consistent pop-ups, the library is looking to the City of Melbourne to further support their endeavours.
A City of Melbourne spokesperson said the council was currently working with the not-for-profit library to investigate options for their future operations across Melbourne.
“We’re acutely aware of the challenges faced by many organisations in accessing funding and affordable operating spaces, and we’re continuously looking for solutions and accommodation options for different community groups,” the spokesperson said.
“Toy libraries play an important role in our community – inspiring young minds, while providing a safe space for families to connect and access resources.” •