Toy library opens at New London Public Library

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Dominic De Los Santos, 8, from New London, hands his mother, Jasmine Vargas, a bin with the dummy construction tool set he chose to pay for on Friday, September 23, 2022, from the new toy library from the New London Public Library. Take-home toys, board games, video games and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) kits are available for kids and teens at checkout. (Dana Jensen/The Day) Buy reprints
Dominic De Los Santos, 8, from New London, puts a toy train engine back on the shelf on Friday, September 23, 2022, while his mother, Jasmine Vargas, holds the bin with the dummy construction tool set that he chose to check out the new toy library at the Public Library of New London. Take-home toys, board games, video games and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) kits are available for kids and teens at checkout. (Dana Jensen/The Day) Buy reprints

New London ― Children can now borrow toys from the city’s public library, thanks to the efforts of two women.

“We never had enough funding for toys at the library and now we have toys to pass around,” said Madhu Gupta, executive director of the New London Public Library.

Traveling Toys, Inc. is a non-profit organization made up of two friends―Mary Didiuk from Madison and Diana Caty from Guilford―who wanted to create something that would benefit the community. The two, who set out to create toy libraries across the state to promote parenting and provide children with better access to toys, opened their first toy library in Westbrook last year.

Didiuk said a toy library “helps the environment, saves money and teaches kids to share.”

Open to the public on September 11, New London’s Toy and Teen Library has a variety of toys for all age groups: Legos, tea sets, magnetic toys, talking electronic toy dogs, baby toys and more. Working with Traveling Toys, Gupta said the library received a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut in the spring, which it used to purchase new toys.

Gupta said families can borrow up to two toys with a library card and return them in three weeks. There are also board games and Nintendo Switches that teens can check out at the library, but Gupta said those can’t leave the library.

Families can see what toys are available on the library’s website.

Caty said Traveling Toys, Inc. plans to open toy libraries in Groton and West Haven this fall. Didiuk said they help libraries with fundraising, write and submit grant applications, and stay in touch with libraries even after toy libraries open in case the toys are damaged or damaged. need to be replaced.

Gupta said the library won’t charge for toys that aren’t returned. However, she said families would receive reminders about when to return them. Once the toys are returned to the library, Gupta said librarians will clean up the toys.

“Libraries are first and foremost a service and we are excited to have this service,” Gupta said.

Gupta said there was a room in the library set aside for children to play and read. The Library’s Teen Room also opened last year and provides a space where teens can take part in regular programs such as board game nights, cooking nights and painting nights.

Didiuk said there were around 100 toys and board games at the New London Library for families.

In his research, Didiuk said he discovered toy libraries created in California in the early 1900s during the Great Depression. Didiuk and Caty hope toy libraries will help bring families back to their local libraries after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the pandemic, children and teens were showing a higher number of isolations,” Caty said. “Libraries will always be a place of gathering and families will benefit from the interaction.”

Didiuk called the New London Toy Library space “beautiful” with a toy rug and Lego table they were also able to purchase with the grant. She said the toys are organized in boxes and people can pull them off the shelves.

“We want to reach as many communities as possible,” Caty said of the toy library initiative.

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