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 2023-2026
Dr Monica Stach
President: 2023 – 2026
I am honoured to serve as ITLA’s president for a second term. I have been involved in ITLA’s board since 2014 and have seen toy libraries grow across the world. The diversity of toy library models focused on addressing local needs is what ensures the sustainability of toy libraries.
I set up Cotlands first toy library in 2008, and since then our team developed an accredited skills training course for toy librarians and have set up more than 30 toy libraries in collaboration with corporate partners. I have seen and experienced the power of play and firmly believe that toy libraries make a very important contribution to ignite children’s potential and to strengthen relationships between parents and their children, as well as adults working with children. I am also an ex-chairperson of our local toy library association, TLASA, which aims to promote toy libraries in South Africa.
Laura Van Laethem
Vice-president: 2023 – 2026
Born in Brussels – Belgium I’ve always been surrounded by toys and board games. I cultivate my inner child 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 adviser. Moreover, I’m presently a member of the LUDEO team, the Center of Play’s Resources of the COCOF. LUDEO promote 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 teenager’s instructors, etc.). Our goal is to promote games as an educational engine and to use them to discover skills. Nevertheless, having fun is essential!
Treasurer: 2023 – 2026
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 welcoming all toy librarians to Melbourne for the 2023 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.
Secretary & American Link Person 2023 – 2026
Living in El Salvador, I have been working in a nonprofit organisation since 2003. Knowing that children in my country are very vulnerable because of the violence, they need new opportunities to grow up developing their basics skills: social, physical, emotional and cognitive. Now I work for them, in Children First Foundation. In my free time helping other organisations to formulate social projects.
I’m working as executive director at Fundación La Ninez Primero (Children First Foundation) for 20 years and as a committee member of Fundación Gloria de Kriete for 18 years.
Conference organiser 2023 -2026
Asian Link Person & Social media
Just Play Founder and Play Association of R.O.C Founder in Taiwan. I’m a researcher of management and operation system for play and toy libraries.
I hope my research can help the development of toy libraries to promote children’s rights to play and provide more play resources for children all over the world.
World Play Day Coordinator: 2023 – 2026
Founder, Toy Library Association of Kenya, National Committee President, World Organisation for Early Childhood Education (OMEP Kenya) and 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. Lilian supervised 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.
Africa Link Person: 2023 – 2026
I’m a South African special needs teacher. I am skilled at making learning practical and fun. I enjoy using toys and games in teaching. I’ve attended play-based learning short courses and webinars as well as toy library administration training. I am currently in the process of starting a nonprofit toy library. I’m also membership coordinator for Toy Library Association South Africa (TLASA).
Member Liaison 2023 – 2026
I am currently in the role of National Development Officer for toy libraries Australia. As well as being part of our national association I am part of my local toy library, Humpty Dumpty Toy Library in Beechboro. I have loved being part of toy libraries, we first joined when my children were younger. Now they are bigger and still loving play but are now able to help out and love helping other children and families when in the toy library. The toy library community are full of the most incredible, passionate people who I love working with. I am also an Occupational Therapist and have loved working with children and their families. So far my journey have been full of great fun playful moments, and I very much look forward to playing too with the International Toy Library Board.
World Play Day Coordinator: 2023 – 2026
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. 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. For several years, she has been representing IAC in the European Toy Libraries Group.
Israël Vergara Alvarez
Newsletter editor: 2023 – 2026
I’m a former doctor in Biology (University of Aix-Marseille in France) and graduated in Foreign Affairs (National Polytechnic of Mexico). I have worked in the toy library Terre Ludique since 2020 where I volunteered the year before. I learned about the potential benefits of games, toys and playing during my volunteer year and the ITLA conference in South Africa inspired me to turn to games as a powerful tool for individual and social development.
My work focuses on using toys and games to develop conditions for dialogue between people from different cultures and living together, to understand and practice citizenship and to empower people to live in international solidarity, especially working with those that are invisible in society such as low-income people, LGBTQIA+ community, immigrants and refugees. The highly motivated and engaged people in ITLA inspired me to contribute to this wonderful community of toy librarians.
Click on the photos below for a complete view of all the board members