Carnegie Toy Library
Annual General Meeting - 8th March 2022
Thanks to our enthusiastic and selfless volunteers, numerous goals were achieved at the Carnegie toy library in 2021. The strong bond that has developed amongst our long-standing committee and wider community, who collaborated, supported and worked together through some of the most challenging moments to date has enabled us to continue to provide our wonderful service to local families.
We remained committed to supporting our family members in 2021, knowing that so many were under severe financial pressure and/or suffering the long term mental health effects of the pandemic during multiple lockdown periods. Our committee selflessly worked around the clock throughout the year to enable click & collect services and covid-normal open sessions whilst continuing to revitalise both the toy library and toy collection to enable children to learn through the experience of play.
Here’s what we achieved...
At the the toy library.
In between lockdown periods our committee volunteers focused on enhancing the presentation and storage of the toys within the toy library whilst also refreshing the toy collection with new toys and categories.
The walkway between the garage and the toy library was transformed into a new Imaginative play area. This project was one year in the making with multiple committee members liaising with the council and builders. The new area houses all of the large Imaginative toys (BBQs, kitchens, dollhouses) which were previously blocking up the aisles in the toy library. The toy library now looks much less cluttered as a result of moving the larger toys into this area, and we’ve received many compliments from our members in regards to how fantastic the new area looks. We replaced the old accessory shelving with new Raeco shelving, which has enabled the accessories to be easily browsed and selected.
We had our first ever Digital Screen Signage installed. Our new toy arrivals and news are all displayed via a digital screen loop, which is regularly updated. We also introduced a new square payment system which allows our members to easily tap and pay for memberships and fines.
Our toy collection.
Our toy collection of 2,500 toys received 180 new additions throughout the year.
We introduced a new Story Sacks category which contains a story book with accompanying toys to support the story. Story sacks are a great opportunity for children to consider the characters and locations of the story, taking the lead of a main character in a story and expressing themselves as the character throughout the story, helping them to develop and improve their social, communication and language skills.
We purchased new Soft Play Equipment, which are great for developing motor skills, balance and coordination activities, the different shapes, sizes and colours offer a variety of challenges and endless hours of creative fun.
New Wooden Active toys were added such as climbing frames, climbing cubes, Kinderboards, and a rocking boat. Wooden toys are enjoying a major resurgence as parents wistfully recall their own childhoods when choosing toys for their children, and as consumers in general return to traditional toys to balance out the ever-sophisticated toys and gadgets of the digital age.
We also re-invigorated our Imaginative play & Vehicle sections by adding sustainable toys made from recycled materials to the collection. We wanted to reduce waste by purchasing toys that can be recycled or have been made from recycled plastics or wood.
We replaced the toys in the baby party pack with new soft foam pieces, much more suitable and age appropriate for babies. This was so popular that we also introduced a new ball pit party pack.
We continued 'Click & Collect'.
Throughout the lockdown periods we continued to run our COVID-safe 'Click & Collect' borrowing system for members, ensuring that families around Glen Eira could have safe access to quality toys to enrich their children's play and development.
We ran the service by operating with strict COVID-19 protocols to support the 'Click & Collect' model permitted by DHHS. Members continued to book their toys through our online catalogue and reserve a pick-up time. Members collected pre-ordered toys outside of the building at allocated appointment times, strictly observing social distancing.
We ran this service for almost 3 months.
Our members continued to use the toy library both during our 'Click & Collect' service and our open sessions. Borrowing toys continued to be a life saver in 2021 as playgrounds were closed during the lockdown periods with many children being kept out of daycare due to parental loss of income or health concerns. We continued to receive so many positive messages from our members during lockdown periods - who were so thankful to be using our service.
Due to the extended closure periods throughout the year our membership numbers continued to decline and by the end of 2021 we had 240 members, down 20% from the previous year.
Marketing & Promotions.
Spreading the importance of play was more important than ever. We continued to post this message and new toy arrivals through our social channels.
Our Instagram channel is up by 12% year on year with 932 followers and our Facebook channel is up by 14% with 660 followers.
Over 600 nappies were donated by our members and collected at the toy library for the Nappy Collective, an organisation which collects unused disposable nappies across Australia and diverts them to families in crisis.
We're running google ads for the first time ever!
We had another successful year for grant applications.
Grill'd fundraiser & Memberships for social connections for vulnerable groups
We received the following grants:
Glen Eira COVID-19 Community Recovery Grant - Memberships for social connections for vulnerable groups
Glen Eira Community Services Grant - New Imaginative play toys made from sustainable items
Reimagining Health - VicHealth Grant - New active toys
Katie Allen Volunteers Grant - Volunteers, plus covid items.
Small Business Digital Adaptation Program - Finance software
Grill’d Carnegie - New construction toy purchases
Bunnings BBQ - New shelving
Our fabulous committee member Pia Akerman won Committee Volunteer of the year at the 2021 Australia Toy Library Awards! Pia has been on our committee for 6 years and has devoted herself to spreading the importance of toy libraries amongst the community. She has been a media mastermind, spending endless hours writing articles promoting the value of toy libraries which have been published in magazines & newspapers. She held a media seminar for TLA instructing how toy libraries can create and drive media awareness.
She successfully led the campaign to save the Carnegie toy library from the wrecking ball in 2019, involving petitions, press releases and meetings with the council to articulate the valuable community service of the Toy Library - and won. She also played an integral part in enabling toy libraries to operate under a click & collect model during Covid-19 lockdown periods.
Pia (left) Claire (right)
Claire Valentine was also nominated for the 2021 Higgins Volunteer Award. Creative and diligent, Claire, our secretary is a qualified teacher and play therapist. Not only has she carried out the role of secretary but she has also provided expert advice on toy purchases to help drive children's development, such as story sacks where she helped pair children's books with toys to encourage further play and discussion. She managed our Covid safe planning procedures, and helped to coordinate donated memberships to families in need. She’s also brilliant at executing a toy library clean up - her before and after pics will make you feel like you're in a new toy library!
A huge thank you must go out to our members & volunteers for their continued support. We have our largest committee to date with 15 active committee roles filled, plus ongoing volunteers. The toy library relies on our wonderful committee members who continue to work through multiple projects and initiatives behind the scenes.
Bob (purple), our Toy repairs support and longest standing committee member of 19 years! He still pops in often; repairing broken toys and helps to maintain our building. We truly appreciate your dedicated service to the organisation, and I am personally thankful for your example as a role model in our local community.
Elena (pink), our Toy catalogue Co-ordinator, and soon to be Vice President who passionately works on our toy collection ensuring that all of our new toys are catalogued. She takes all of our toy deliveries, and brings them to the toy library - massive job! She’s always looking for ways to improve our existing toys and works to ensure that every toy is amazing! She works most Wednesday nights, and this is her 4th year running.
Pia (yellow), our Communications officer who has been on the committee for 6 years now, and is always helping out across all components, particularly our new walkway area.
Sophie (blue), our Vice president who continued to perform the challenging role of liaising with members in regards to our 'click & collect' protocols and overdue toys. She also reviewed our missing and broken toys - which was in abundance.
Katie (pink), is our digital marketing mastermind who has set up our first ever google ads and also our square payments.
Tayla (yelow), our Social media co-ordinator. Our social channels have never looked so beautiful. Her imagery is so engaging and we are so lucky to have her posting such engaging content and play ideas through our social media channels.
Claire (green), our Secretary who continues to provide learning through play education. She’s also been hands on with our operations such as setting up our 'click & collect' service, helping out at open sessions, helping catalogue the new story sacks, reorganising the toy library and liaising with various organisations.
Gemma (pink), our Grants Officer, has spent hours writing grant applications to ensure that we can receive ongoing funds to provide new toys for the toy library. She was also responsible for providing social connections for vulnerable groups and for the first time we were able to offer new silver bonus memberships to engage with vulnerable families in our community. She also introduced the new story sacks category.
Eleanor (blue), our Co-ordinator. For always keeping a smile on her face whilst operating our ‘click & collect’ service. She has also done a brilliant job during our open sessions, and is constantly helping to enhance and improve our service.
Rosie (yellow), our General committee member has been great at helping out where she can and we look forward to having her on board for 2022!
Lucy (green), our Treasurer who managed all of our financials for the year and helped execute the square payment set up. This year Lucy will be stepping down as treasurer. I just wanted to say a Humongous thank you to Lucy for everything she's set up and sorted for us in the last 2 years. Especially the Reckon software and new end of year report! You have been nothing short of brilliant and will be hard to replace and missed!
Steph (purple), our Duty roster co-ordinator who helped ensure our duty roster was full for the open sessions.
Pey (blue), our BBQ co-ordinator who co-ordinated and ran our Bunnings BBQ.
Amay (green), our Volunteers co-ordinator has diligently managed our volunteers to ensure that our duty roster is full and our open sessions can run.
Monika, our purchasing officer, who purchases everything we need for the toy library.
Michelle, who continues to spread the word at our New Parent Groups and has also helped out with numerous open sessions.
Emily, who helped collate all of our click & collect orders every Wednesday night during lockdown periods.
Jarrod & Carrol who volunteer on Wednesday nights.
So what's in store for 2022?
We are hoping to resume to some kind of normality in 2022 with minimal lockdowns, where we can continue to support the families of Glen Eira, to engage and learn with their children through the wonder of play.
Our focus will be
Recouping membership numbers
Refreshing our baby section
New outside storage section
Training and sourcing non member volunteers
Continuing to market the toy library through PR
Grant applications and fundraising
I’m grateful that we have new committee members and volunteers joining us in 2022 and I encourage and warmly welcome more community members to share their existing skills or learn a new set of skills to enable the continuation of the Toy Library service; whether it be embracing a role on the committee or undertaking individual tasks to experience how rewarding and enjoyable a committee role can be.