President Alli Speaks: Our visit to ChildReach

Today, Wednesday August 6, both the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and Student Librarians Association for Children and Youth Services (SLACYS) were lucky enough to have the opportunity to see a wonderful library that offers a unique service, lending toys. Community Living London, offers three wonderful programs that offer parents, educators and children the opportunity to borrow toys, books, and teaching materials all for just $35 a year.
Walking into the building it’s obviously a place that’s meant for children with beautiful colors and murals painted inside and a big playroom filled with toys that any child would love to play with. All three programs offer the opportunity to lend out materials for different reasons. Some of these toys are geared towards children who have special needs while others are there for parents to take out for their children to help them learn by playing. It’s amazing to see not only how many toys there are but what skills they toys help develop such as cognitive, emotional, physical skills and many more.
However, as a professional, my favorite part was the upstairs library that’s available for educators. Within this part of the library there are rows and row of boxes filled with books, toys, games, songs, and even puppets and felt board characters. Needless to say, I was in children’s librarian heaven! I could have spent an entire day there looking at all the different programs, games, toys and ideas available and all ready to go home with me in a box! What a great idea and great resource for school support workers, teachers, and even librarians etc… who for various reasons may not have the resources to purchase these materials and the craft room, well as a scrap booker, don’t even get me started on that.
Within this craft room there were so many different options available but the coolest was this machine called that allows people to make different shapes on many different materials. Using this machine you can cut out shapes for felt board characters, or event use it to cut out shapes for crafts on practically any material. For example, this machine was used to cut out shapes for a mobile from pop cans … talk about a great resource, it’s creative, fun and even environmentally friendly.
They even had puppets and felt board stories for sale complete with not only the felt board characters but also the song. Before you ask, yes I did buy some of the felt board stories, how could I not? They were adorable and practical professionally speaking! For anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to go and see what this toy lending library is all about, I strongly recommend it but must warn you, visiting there may leave you wanting to A) either start you own toy lending library or B) lead to excessive toy, book and crafts purchases after you see all the great ideas that you’re missing from your own collection!
Thanks for reading,
Allison Gibbard
SLACYS President, Summer 2014

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