Toy Libraries: An Idea in Need of a Comeback?
Since we’re apparently – at least here in the cradle of the car industry – blowing right past “recession” into raging depression (in every sense) I think toy libraries are an idea whose time has come again.
In San Diego, a toy library started in 1937. Works Progress Administration workers (part of Roosevelt’s New Deal) cleaned and repaired 2000 toys that had been collected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Many of them came from a department store that had burned down.
The first toy library opened at an elementary school in the city, and soon there were 9 within the city of San Diego and 14 around the county. More than 5,000 children were registered. There was no charge to join, nor were there overdue fees or damage fees. Instead, if a toy was badly damaged or overdue, children lost borrowing privileges for a certain time. In between uses, workers would clean and sanitize the toys for the next user. A certain number of toys retuned on time earned children one toy that they could keep.
The idea was that being responsible for the borrowed toys helped build character. It was also thought to lessen juvenile delinquency, because children would not steal what they could borrow.
This was back in the day where children didn’t have very many toys, unlike today’s kids. I think in this economy, this could really help families ot save – after all, how often do you buy your kid a toy that’s their favorite thing for like a day and then just sits? This would be a great way to try out toys and see what’s worth buying, and would be so great for families that can’t afford high quality toys for their children.