There are countless reasons why I am proud of my daughter, Sarah, (Ingrid’s mom).  One of them is because she has worked so hard as part of its Board of Directors, to organize and affect the upcoming  opening of the Portland Toy Library.  What follows is the article that recently appeared in the Oregonian Newspaper:

PDX Toy Library to open in Southeast Portland with a mission of promoting play

Cat Davila, founder, president and director of PDX Toy Library, says her daughter, Lilah Hurst, was the inspiration for her new nonprofit. (Courtesy of Cat Davila)

Portland’s newest library, opening next month, will be all about play.

The PDX Toy Library, an all-volunteer nonprofit, has a mission of lending out high quality toys and play equipment to help infants and children up to age 8 with their physical and educational development.

Its founder, Cat Davila of Southeast Portland, a former nanny who is now a full-time mom to a 5-year-old daughter, said she came up with the idea several years ago, when her daughter was about 2 and a half.

“She became really interested in board games and just wanted to play one after another all day,” Davila said. Davila began wishing she could trade in the games she had for new ones. When she learned that toy libraries existed, she decided to start one in Portland.

The idea also fit with her interests in child and family welfare, the sharing economy and environmental sustainability, she said. And, she said, “I always wanted to be a librarian.”

The PDX Toy Library, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, now has five board members, all volunteer moms from Southeast Portland, Davila said. They will start out in an approximately 300-square-foot room they’re renting from Sunnyside Centenary United Methodist Church, with hopes of moving to a larger space once they can afford to do so, Davila said. She also plans to use an adjacent room for storytimes, craft times and other events.

PDX Toy Library
Address: 3520 S.E. Yamhill St.
Phone: 503-610-6061

The library will be open only to paid members, with 12-month memberships for $100 and three-month memberships for $30. Those who sign up before the library’s planned Jan. 17 opening will receive discounted memberships of 15 months for $100 and six months for $40. Oregon Trail Card holders will receive a 50 percent discount on memberships.

There is no limit to how many people can use a membership, Davila said, but members will be limited to checking out three items at a time for two weeks.

The PDX Toy Library will have its first event from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Dec. 22, with a storytime, balloon animals, snacks and ornament decorating; those interested in memberships can sign up during the event. Donations of $5 per child are requested to cover entertainment costs; additional donations are requested for the snacks and crafts.

The first day of checkouts is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17. Davila said she and the rest of the library board are still working out library hours, but hope to open three days a week, including Saturdays. In the meantime, the organizers are seeking donations of gently used toys and games for the library’s collection and to sell to help cover operating expenses.

The concept of toy sharing isn’t new to Portland. In the Woodlawn neighborhood in Northeast Portland, for instance, the approximately 115 member families of the nearly 3-year-old Woodlawn Swap N Play can swap not only toys but also clothing, books and baby gear while taking advantage of an indoor play space, said director Beth Ivester. In the Woodstock neighborhood in Southeast Portland, the Southside Swap & Play cooperative (formerly Sunnyside Swap Shop) provides its approximately 105 member families with the opportunity to share and swap toys, books, clothing, games, art supplies and baby gear.

And at the West Slope Community Library in Washington County, patrons can check out board games such as Qwirkle, Ticket to Ride and Word on the Street.

Nationally, toy libraries have been around since the 1930s, said Judith Iacuzzi, the executive director of the USA Toy Library Association, based in Evanston, Illinois. The 30-year-old association has about 350 members in more than 30 states. (Three Oregon toy libraries are listed on the association website, two in Hood River and one in Medford. The one in Medford is no longer operating, nor is the one listed at a Marina Way address in Hood River. The third couldn’t be reached Monday.)

Iacuzzi said the first official toy library was established in Los Angeles during the Great Depression after a store owner saw children stealing toys and got the idea of starting a lending program.

Most of the association’s member libraries are affiliated with larger institutions, such as community libraries, hospitals, social services agencies or child care programs, Iacuzzi said. The freestanding toy libraries are often affiliated with the disabled community, she said.

Either way, they share a mission “to provide quality play experiences in a localized environment with specialists who can help select toys and advise parents or the caregivers on the quality of the toy or the play experience,” Iacuzzi said.

The association uses the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio as a resource for choosing toys.