The AUGUST, 2020 ITLA Newsletter

Dear ITLA members,
We are very proud to be serving as board members during ITLA’s 30th year of existence. Throughout the years the various boards’ governance and management has ensured that ITLA remained relevant and delivered on its primary mandate:  to encourage the exchange of knowledge between toy librarians across the world.

Here are some updates from the board:

*We currently have 53 ITLA members. 

* Since July 2019, ITLA’s board has had two virtual meetings and produced four newsletters. We’ve managed to increase our Facebook following and have noticed an increase in our engagements as well.

* PLANS: In the next six months, we plan to host an ITLA webinar focused on determining what the curriculum for an international toy library qualification should include.  We also want to map toy libraries across the world and produce videos on using toys to enhance children’s development.

*30th Anniversary of ITLA:  We need your help to represent ITLA’s 30 year journey on our timeline! We are looking to post at least 1 memory per year of ITLA’s existence.  If you have any historical information about ITLA, we would be delighted to receive that from you.  Please email it to

Across the world, toy library services have been disrupted as a result of Covid-19. We have seen in the toy library world that “necessity is the mother of invention.” We are encouraged to see how toy librarians have continued promoting play through a variety of virtual engagements, adaptations, and creative solutions.

Finally, please keep visitors to your toy library safe and ensure you comply with your country’s Covid-19 laws and regulations when operating. 
Toy library greetings,

Dr Monica Stach
ITLA President 2019-2022

A walk down memory lane, with Cynthia Morrison, one of the first ITLA members.

The main memories I would like to share concern the people involved with ITLA.  The first ITLA Conference I attended was held in Melbourne in 1993.  It was a joint conference with the International Play Association (IPA). I was a newbie and Anne-Marie Ekman (Sweden), then ITLA secretary, made me feel so welcome. The next Conference was in 1996 in Geneva. My fondest memory was playing a game of volley ball in Town Hall with over 80 people on each side!!
Renate Fuchs (ITLA board member) and her team organised the Conference. Dr. Freda Kim was elected as President of ITLA. The General Assembly supported her vision of a World Play Day, which is now celebrated in over 40 countries. Dr. Noriko Minejima and her team organised the Conference in Tokyo in 1999.   Japan is well known for having the most beautiful handmade toys. We saw fantastic examples of these as a competition was held during the conference. Roma Lear, the only life member of ITLA, was one of the judges. Roma, who hails from England, made toys for children with special needs and attended every toy library conference, demonstrating her unique toys until she was no longer able to travel. Aina Khor from Malaysia was elected to serve on the ITLA board that year, as was I.

To serve on the ITLA board was a huge commitment, as board members were expected to pay for their own travel and accommodation when attending interim board meetings, held about 18 months before each conference. The president usually chose the venue, mostly in Europe, which was more central. The host country had to present their plans for the next conference and the theme was approved by the board.  
Natalia Pais, longtime member of the ITLA board, and her team organised the Conference in Lisbon in 2002. The highlight of any conference is always the visits to local toy libraries. In Lisbon, these visits were combined with some sightseeing! At the Conference in Tshwane in 2005, a number of board members who had served on the board since ITLA was founded stepped down, mostly in favor of new representatives from their countries. This included a previous president of ITLA,  Jean-Pierre Cornelissen (Belgium).  Although ITLA had very minimal funds, one or two nights’ accommodation at interim board meetings were covered from then on.
At the conference in Paris, organized by Alice Lucot, Cindy Pieté, and their team in 2008, a games area was provided–delegates could be seen playing at any time of the day! The French toy librarians very generously welcomed South African toy librarians into their homes, which enabled the largest delegation of African toy librarians to attend. 
The Conference in Sao Paulo in 2011 was the realization of a long held dream for Nylse da Cunha Silva, who served on the ITLA board for many years. 
This is an acknowledgement of the people who really helped in the early years, whose names may not be remembered as much as they should.



In February 2020, the Toy Library Association of Kenya (TLA-KE), in conjunction with 
OMEP, began distributing information about toy libraries in schools. 
This was disrupted by the closure of schools following the COVID-19 outbreak.

OMEP Kenya Toy Library passed out toy library information 
at the OMEP Africa Regional meeting too.  The next step is for them to conduct training for individual countries on how to set up and administer toy libraries. We hope this enables them to establish toy libraries in their own countries!

The World Play Day 2020 theme was “Stay Safe, Play at Home.” To encourage playing at home, a competition was launched. Children who sent pictures of themselves playing at home won T-shirts!

The Toy Library Association South Africa (TLASA) hosted their 2nd Annual General Meeting virtually due to COVID 19 restrictions, with 37 members attending. The following were approved by the members:

  • The Annual Report for July 1, 2019- June 30, 2020
  • The Financial Report for July 1, 2019- June 30, 2020
  • An Addendum to the Constitution

Below are the TLASA accomplishments from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020:

  • The TLASA logo was re-designed.
  • TLASA was registered as a non-profit and a bank account was opened.
  • The committee created a strategic plan with six strategic goals 
  • TLASA’s website was re-built (
  • COVID 10 Standard Operating Procedures and a Parent Checklist for re-opening  programs were shared on the TLASA Facebook page and website.
  •  Lots of heartwarming videos were posted on social media by parents playing at home with their children on WPD 2020.
  • The online accredited Toy Librarian Skills Development Program pilot launched on  July 3, 2020.
  • The Jim Joel Foundation funded 10 scholarships for Toy Librarians participate in the Toy Library Skills Development Program.
  • A Toy Library Questionnaire – “Getting to Know Your Toy Library” was circulated to develop a directory of Toy Libraries in South Africa.


Upcoming Conference
  • The TLASA Toy Library Virtual Conference will take place on October 12-13, 2020.
  • The theme is “Toy Libraries for the 4th Industrial Revolution.” 
  • More information will be shared on the TLASA Facebook page.



Jom! Play Community Toy library in Malaysia is ready for kids to come play!

Preloved toys were picked up from three locations, then moms from the apartment complex categorized them.  This low-income community in Lembah Subang was selected by the Ministry of Housing and the local government to become a model for other communities that fall in the lowest 40% of the population for income. Children here often have extremely poor language and communication skills.

A variety of toys were generously donated, enabling volunteers to set up little play stations …an infant & toddler space, manipulatives, blocks, Legos, board games, cognitive games, language games, puzzles, vehicles, figurines and more!

Toy Libraries Malaysia was heavily involved in this groundbreaking project, which will include an intergenerational toy library and a community hub. There is exercise equipment for the senior citizens, a library, and an upcoming kitchen hub for enterprising cooks. The Lembah Subang Moms had fun doing this “makeover” in just three hours. Amazing! Here’s the rest of the story:*F


South America


Colombia is creating a large-scale project to change history in their country, which has tried to decrease violence for many years. The focus is “The act of playing as a right and as a protecting factor against violence experienced by children and teenagers.” Corporación Juego y Niñez is working in conjunction with The National Alliance Against Violence on a three step plan:

1. Online training leading up to an action project. The goal is to share knowledge and experiences while learning about the unique features of various towns.

2. Round tables with children in at least eight diverse regions, in order
to learn about their outlook on play and family relationships.

3. A National Forum will take place in October, featuring several international speakers. The forum will seek to gain understanding on the relationship between play, its protective role, and childhood rights in order to push forward the agenda for the reduction of violence against children and teenagers.

Crianza Amorosa+Juego represents an opportunity to set a precedent that could have a lifelong impact on every single Colombian. To learn more about this important project, please visit and

Hospital toy libraries are in quarantine!


   Toy libraries in hospitals in Brazil are facing a challenge: how to keep play alive for children in the hospital, especially those in isolation.  According to Brazilian Law, every hospital with pediatric care must have a toy library. Under the circumstances, however, toy libraries must be closed. 

 The João XXIII Hospital toy library has found a creative way to keep play alive! They’re making kits that contain coloring pages, colored pencils, crayons, toys, books, and magazines for each child. These kits do not replace a fun visit to the toy library in any way–that’s impossible! They simply help support children’s need to play while they are hospitalized. These kits are powerful tools that help little ones face a new reality.

Toy librarians have also begun making play kits in São Paulo. They’ve used themes like Easter and Mother’s Day to create fun activities. The children are overjoyed to have the kits and always ask for more! These playful activities have helped keep the little ones calm and happy during their time in the hospital.

 A hospital in Rio de Janeiro recognized a problem with the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Coronavirus spreads through the air and direct contact, requiring that all professionals in the health field take necessary precautions while attending to their patients, such as wearing masks, glasses, and cloaks. But the use of such equipment can cause fear and estrangement during therapy. Their solution was to try to further humanize care, using colorful caps and masks. Mask fashion became so popular that even the toys were included!


 Brazil’s goal is to “survive this pandemic in the best possible way, playing and bringing joy to children.
Please find the full article here:

 North America

The United States

 Cape Cod Toy Library in the US is organizing a game challenge, inviting families to create safe, outdoor, child-friendly games. Each household will create their own game (croquet, putt putt, etc.) that people can come play.  

Here are some ideas for fun games that families can make!


 Parents and kids will walk or drive from house to house to play a game and have tons of fun!  

Prizes will be given in the following categories: Homemade Creativity, Grandparent Involvement, Sense of Humor, Outstanding Innovation, Thinking Outside the Box, Super Design, Most Challenging, Simple Fun for Little Ones, and more.  

What a nice way to promote outdoor play during the pandemic!


“Surviving Parenting in the Pandemic,” a Facebook series USA Toy Library Association started in April, offers playful activities for parents and children to do during the pandemic, often using items found in the home. Take a look at the ideas below!


Congratulations to everyone for your creativity during the pandemic. For being flexible, for keeping children’s best interests in mind, for supporting parents, for doing the right thing. It’s been a difficult five months, but we have learned, grown, and developed all kinds of new skills. Hang in there!

Please invite others to join ITLA. 

Just send your toy librarian friends this link:

We’d love to have updates about your toy libraries!
Are you having an event?
Something to celebrate? Pictures to share? We want to feature you! 





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