Westbrook Public Library Now Lending Toys Thanks to Westbrook Foundation Grant
Diana Caty and Mary Didiuk founded of Traveling Toys, Inc., which is now offering toys on loan from the Westbroook Public Library thanks to a Westbrook Foundation grant. (Photo courtesy of the Westbrook Foundation)
Westbrook kids looking for new ways to stay entertained can now head to the Westbrook Public Library (WPL) not just for books, but for toys. The library has started a toy lending service for children, thanks to a collaboration with Traveling Toys and a seed grant from the Westbrook Foundation.
WPL Children’s Librarian Tricia Carlin said that all anyone needs to participate in the program is a library card and that it works just like taking out a book. Interested parties come into the library and check out a toy they want for up to three weeks.
“We have small area right now with about 50 items in circulation with more on the way,” said Carlin.
Carlin added that all returned toys get cleaned and quarantined as an extra precaution.
“We have toys that run the full gamut, a great selection from baby toys on up,” said Carlin.
Toys that can be found in the library include everything from blocks to toy trucks to games like checkers.
Library Director Timothy Kellogg said that the point of the toy section is not only fun, but a way to promote learning, too, as the kids get to experience different toys and new methods of playing. Carlin agreed.
“As a parent, I would have loved to be able to expose my kids to different toys and types of things when they were younger without necessarily owning them,” Carlin said.
Another benefit for the program is that it allows people who may be watching kids for a short period of time access to items that they might not have at home.
“We had several grandparents in before the holidays come in as they were preparing for the grandkids to come visit and wanted toys that they might not have at home at this point in their lives so the kids can keep busy,” said Carlin.
Kellogg said that the impetus for the program actually came a while ago before much of the current staff was even working at the library, himself included.
“A while back a group called Traveling Toys met with our then-children’s librarian Mary Nyman and pitched the idea,” said Kellogg.
Thanks to a grant from the Westbrook Foundation, the program took off in Westbrook.
The brainchild of Diana Caty and Mary Didiuk—an immigration attorney and scientist, respectively—the non-profit organization Traveling Toys provides an array of items for children to enjoy, according to a release from the Westbrook Foundation.
Caty and Didiuk said Westbrook is a good fit for its pilot location because the town has a high percentage of families who are asset-limited and income-constrained, according to the release.
Westbrook Foundation Grants Chair An-Ming Truxes said she is delighted that the foundation is able to support Traveling Toys.
“This is exactly the sort of initiative that Barbara Spencer had in mind when she established the Westbrook Foundation in 1984, bolstering a creative, hands-on project that will have a deep impact on Westbrook’s youth,” said Truxes.
“The thing we really want to get out to the public is that all you need to participate is a library card, that’s it,” said Kellogg.
To borrow from the Toy Library at Westbrook Public Library, visit the library’s Children’s Room. To learn more about Traveling Toys, email Diana Caty at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mary Didiuk at email@example.com. To learn more about the Westbrook Foundation’s grant process, visit www.westbrookfoundation.org/grants.