The International Toy Library Association was created in 1990 in Torino during the 5th International Conference of Toy Libraries. It was formed to provide a permanent international link structure for toy libraries.
Toy libraries provide resources for play, trained staff and dedicated space. Play, toys and games are at the centre of activities. Generally, a toy library is a community resource that serves people without regard to language, national origin, race, age, sex, handicap or religion.
The decision to form ITLA was taken on May 28th, 1987 at the 4th International Conference of Toy Librarie in Toronto. ITLA is registered under Belgian law as a non-profit-making international organisation whose membership is comprised of national toy library associations, individual toy libraries throughout the world and organisations or individuals that support the aims of the Association.
The Board of Directors of the Association is elected during the General Assembly that takes place every 3 years at International Toy Library Conferences. Board members must be members of ITLA and generally reflect the geographic distribution of members of the Association.
ITLA BOARD 2019-2022
Dr Monica Stach /South Africa
Chairperson of the Toy Library Association South Africa with a membership of 70 organisations, chairperson of the International Toy Library Association and vice-chairperson of the National Early Childhood Development Alliance – each with a unique focus on early childhood development.
Stach leads a team of dedicated professionals and experts in toy libraries, playgroups and play-based learning at Cotlands. Stach, completed her PhD in South Africa on “The role of toy libraries in providing play-based learning opportunities for young children”. She joined COTLANDS in 2007 setting up Cotlands first toy library and since then introduced mobile toy libraries working in collaboration with health clinics to deliver toy library services to rural communities. Innovating and finding unique solutions linked to a variety of toy library models is her passion. She is passionate about increasing access to play-based learning opportunities, especially for young children living in marginalised communities. She takes every opportunity to lobby and advocate for toy libraries to be registered against norms and standards that are unique to this sessional, non-centre based mode of service delivery. In addition, her thought leadership in the space of creating awareness about the critical role played by a toy librarian to promote play-based learning and the need for South Africa to work towards an accredited toy librarian qualification.
Michel Van Langendonckt / Europe – Belgium
1989: Founded “Alpa-Ludismes” a Toy Library dedicated to adults in Brussels (Ixelles district)
1990: Master of Economics (Université Libre de Bruxelles –ULB)
1993: Master of Politics (ULB) and Postgraduate in Sociology
1994-2006: Give History, Geography, Economics and social sciences lessons in High Schools in Brussels… with toy library activities for students at noon
1996 In Zürich, “jeux demain, jeux pas vilains” first communication in ITLA conference
Since 1999 President of LUDO asbl, the association of French speaking Belgian toy library and toy librarians.
Since 2004 Member of French game jurys (International game design competition in Paris- Boulogne-Billancourt; As d’or game of the year in France in Cannes)
Since 2006: Lecturer in Social Sciences and Sociology of Education in a pedagogical college for teachers and educators (Haute Ecole de Bruxelles – HEB)
Since 2008: Lecturer in Ludology in a social college for social workers and librarians (HE Spaak)
Since 2009: Responsible for the “Ludivine & Lucifer Toy library and documentation center” (and official address of ITLA… HEB, 62 Defre avenue at 1180 Brussels.T el: +32 2733.71.10)
Since 2010: French speaking Belgian representative in the European Toy Library (ETL) group of ITLA
Since 2013: Responsible for the HEB-HE Spaak “Sciences and technics of play and games” degree in Brussels
Through I’m deeply conviced of the importance of play and games to build human beings and, who knows, a better world, I will do my best to promote and develop a large toy library network all over the world but also to spread information about research, documentation and trainings about toy libraries, play and games. Unfortunately, I’m afraid I will not have so much time to be efficient. As my wife says already for a too long time, “my work is my family”.
Dan Mchunu / South Africa
Dan Mchunu is a finance clerk at Cotlands, a registered non-profit early childhood development organization with a rich 83-year heritage in serving young, vulnerable children.
His career in finance spans more than a decade with his start as an Administrator for a mentorship non-profit organization. This entailed managing end-to-end office coordination and company bookkeeping. This was a highly successful venture which lasted for five years.
A passionate soccer supporter, he lends his services as a Disciplinary Committee Secretary for the AMSL, a non-active soccer league for retired soccer players.
He graduated with a Degree in Business Administration and continues to enhance his financial skills.
Laura van Laethem
Born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1987, I’ve always been surrounded by toys and board games. I cultivate my share of childhood and try to keep a playful mind in my everyday life.
After my speech therapy studies, I worked in the toy libraries sector of the COCOF, the French speaking Commission in Brussels. Beginning as a toy librarian, I also became projects manager and board games former. Moreover, I’m presently a member of the LUDEO team, the Center of Play’s Resources of the COCOF.
LUDEO promote toys and board games of quality for everyone with no age limit or specificities. We form and sustain all persons wishing to introduce games in their work (teachers, therapists, children and teenagers instructors …etc.).
Our goal is to promote games as an educational engine and to use them to discover skills. Nevertheless, pleasure is essential!
Poai Hong / Asia- Malaysia
Lawyer by profession but has been involved in the early childhood and education sector since 1989 as an Early Years Centre Director, Trainer, Supplier, and Consultant. She has been and continues to be a passionate advocate for the setting up of community based (for low income families) and corporate childcare centres, kindergartens, creative activity centres, toy libraries, sensorial wall murals as well as training related thereto
Mrs. PH Wong currently sits on the Steering Committee of Childline Malaysia, a non-profit national public safety project of the Malaysian Children TV Programme Foundation. She was the Project Director who pioneered the setting up and launching of 15999 Childline, a 24-hour national phone helpline for children under 18 years in Nov 2010 in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Family and Community Development.
Mrs PH Wong currently represents Malaysia as a speaker at Regional and International Consultations of Child Helpline International since 2011. Working with the corporate sector and government agencies she spearheaded a team for outreach to children for education and training in child protection in respect of various child related issues.
Wong is a strong advocate for child rights and child protection as a CRC and Child Protection Trainer since 1998 for SUHAKAM, the Department of Social Welfare, National Childcare Association, Sime Darby Berhad , and other organisations
She was a member of task forces involved in the development of the National Child Policy, the National Child Protection Policy, the National Plan of Action for Children, National Occupational Skills Standards for Childcare Industry, National Policy for Online Child Protection and National Family Policy.
She currently represents Childline Malaysia on the Steering Committee of the Child Rights Coalition of Malaysia (CRCM) and acts as Joint Secreteriat lead for CRCM which is working on the CRC NGO Report to be submitted to the CRC Committee based in Geneva.
She also secured funding of RM60,000 from Unicef Malaysia to establish the first Child Rights Resource Centre for Children in Malaysia based at the MBPJ Community Library
Current President of the Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia, better known as Persatuan Pengasuh Berdaftar Malaysia (PPBM) for 2013 -2015
She is also the Hon. Secretary General of the Corporate Responsibility to Employees (CRE) Committee of the ECCE Council. In 2004, she conceptualised and developed the setting up of “i-play” toy libraries which was packaged as a successful CSR Funding Project of Yayasan EMKAY for the setting up and operation of toy libraries for children in poor urban and rural communities, hospitals and shelters
She recently presented the Country Report at the Asia Pacific Toy Library Conference in Tokyo
Over 20 years of her work is primarily geared to making this world a better place for children in at risk and low income families.
Lilian Atieno Okal
Africa Link – International Toy Library Association
Founder, Toy Library Association of Kenya
National Committee President, World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP Kenya)
Consultant and Content Developer in Early Childhood
With a strong Early Childhood Development and Education background, Lilian is a firm believer that every child has potential awaiting ignition. A trained trainer in Play-based Learning and Toy Library Set-up and Administration from Cotlands South Africa, She superintended the establishment of the first toy library in Kenya, OMEP Kenya Toy Library. She is an alumnus of SDG Academy in Education for Sustainable Development in early years. In 2017, Lilian received a commendation for Special Achievement in Education for Sustainable Development from World OMEP. She was commended by the World Bank group for her contribution to Women, Business and the Law 2018. Lilian is passionate about play and is actively involved in promoting and advocating for play in Kenya and beyond.
Ana Lourenço / Portugal
Ana Lourenço, graduated in Applied Psychology and specialist in Clinical and Health Psychology by the Portuguese Psychologists Association. She has been working in the Play Activity Department of Child Support Institute (IAC) since 2008. She started by collaborating in several projects in the area of Health Education, with adults and children, but ended up discovering the enthusiasm of working in the area of Play as she had the happiness of finding “play enthusiasts”, such as Natália Pais, who showed her the importance of play activity in so many areas of our lives. She is involved in activities of supervision and technical support to Toy libraries and also carries out trainings with professionals from toy libraries in areas such as “Play Material and Its Potentialities”, “New technologies in play activity” and “Toys and Gender”. She was responsible for the study “Toy Libraries in Portugal”, concluded this year and presented internationally, and is part of the team who disseminates and works on World Play Day promotion in Portugal.
She has been representing IAC in the European Toy Libraries Group for several years now.
Maria Celia Rabello / Brazil
Present president of Brazilian Toy Libraries Association – ABBri and a lifelong advisor to the Brazilian Association of Psychopedagogy Graded in Pedagogy with specialization in Psychpedagogy, with PHD in School and Human Development Psychology by the Psychology Institute – Sao Paulo University, Brazil. Has experience with children with learning problems and/or developmental disturbs through 30 years of clinical practice, also interested in teachers training, with focus on use of games in classroom. Researcher in the area of games, learning and development, having integrated the Workgroup “Games and its importance for Psychology and Education” of National Association of Research and Graduate Studies in Psychology (ANPEPP), has articles and books chapters published on the topics on which operates: psychopedagogical evaluation and intervention, play and learning, teacher´s training, active teaching and mediation methodologies.
Debbie founded the Moonee Valley Toy Library (MVTL) in Melbourne, Australia when her first child was 1 year old. Little did she know that the toy libraries would take over her life and in 2 years MVTL grew to have 450 members.
Since 2014 she has been President of Toy Libraries Australia, leading the growth and professionalisation of the organisation . Toy Libraries Australia is looking forward to welcoming all toy librarians to Melbourne for the 2022 ITLA conference.
Outside of toy libraries, Debbie is a strategy consultant specialising in strategy development, business growth, finance and mergers in the community services, health and financial services sectors. She has extensive board experience, including nine years on the board of Monash Health, Melbourne’s largest health service.
Click on the photos below for a complete view of all the board members