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Newsletter nº 6 (2015)

Geneva - Switzerland 2015 Switzerland hosted the 19th meeting on April 17th and 18th, in Geneva. The meeting was attended by the following participants: Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, Switzerland and Turkey. Excuses were received from England, Germany, Poland, Croatia and Spain. From Sweden we received, unfortunately, the news that there National Association has closed down. All the members stated that, despite the difficulties toy libraries are facing nowadays, it still is very important to have a European meeting every year. The exchange between the different countries is very enriching and motivating for all participants. NEW MEMBER: SCOTLAND ETL welcomes Smart Play Network from Scotland that has joined the group for the first time. We were very happy to get to know the work the association carries out and we expect see members from Scotland in the next few years!


HOW TO SURVIVE: PR AND FUNDRAISING In 2014, ETL members worked around “Public Relations and Fundraising” (PR+FR), a challenge for every country. This year, members shared what they did in this matter: 

Most members carried out meetings in their home countries in order to share the inputs from ETL’s discussing;

Bazaars and other special events helped the associations to raise some money and to invest in some assets, e.g. to develop short movies which can be used as advertising material for the toy libraries ;

The contact with special organizations, showing them the value of toy libraries and asking for their support, was identified as a good practice.


 To disseminate the concept of toy libraries as a means of bringing play and play materials to people.  To serve as a link between national toy library organizations, providing opportunities for international exchange of ideas and materials.  To maintain a liaison with other organizations and associations pertaining to developmental and social issues, health, education and play.  To organize common presentations at international events such as the International Conferences organized by the International Toy Library Association.  To cooperate with organizations having similar goals.

ETL MEETING—GENEVA, APRIL 2015 CHALLENGES FOR TOY LIBRARIES A duty of every national association should be to look forward, optimise, and if necessary renew their offer. So, ETL members were divided in 3 workgroups so to discuss: 1) Electronic Games (EG) – Are they the suited for toy libraries? 2) Integration - Refugees and Immigration 3) Demographic changes – Less children and more elderly people.

ETL members discussed 3 special topics in working groups: Electronic Games, Integration and Demography Changes

1) Electronic Games (EG) – Are they the suited for toy libraries?

When talking about electronic games in a toy library, we can identify pros and cons: 

Pros: - opportunity to learn how it works; - access to this specific material for weak social level or low income people;

- EG could be used in a positive way, e.g. to stimulate movement and cognition and could be helpful for disabled children. 


- you must choose them well as some promote isolation, do not imply movement and could be brutal/violent; - EG are expensive, hard to recycle and so not sustainable.

2) Integration - Refugees and Immigration

The thought “Play is universal, toy libraries can support integration” was at the heart of the discussion of this group. Regarding refugees, toy libraries (TL) can have a healing and resilience role but toy librarians should have specific training in this matter. For immigration, TL can support learning of local language and culture. Some specific actions suggested were: 

Welcome signs in different languages;

Provide small objects and reference points that families would recognise;

Outreach work in schools.

Also, it is very important to have national associations presenting and promoting TL service as supportive of integration and inclusion, taking this idea to governments, funders and local/national immigration groups.


TL have also a role in helping local communities to understand and accept immigrants and refugees. Communication, either local and nationally, is very important.

CHALLENGES FOR TOY LIBRARIES (CONT.) 3) Demographic changes – Less children and more elderly people.

The group reinforced that the TL is not only for children although elderly people usually do not come to TL. So the TL must come to them or another possibility is to provide suitable games for the professionals in elderly homes. The interaction between generations is very important and so special events bringing children and elderly together are very enriching. Also, elderly can present traditional toys and games to children and learn how to play games on tablets with children. Knowledge and communication games were identified as good materials to share with the elderly. They should get used to other kinds of play materials but the toy librarians should be aware that it could take some time to introduce them before their acceptance.

STUDY ON TOY LIBRARIES Portugal shared a survey on toy libraries that will be sent out in the country this year. The survey will update facts & figures, collect information about human and material resources, models of functioning, activities carried out, good practices, among others and get to know the psychosocial and sociocultural role toy libraries play in the community. Also, it is developed so to stimulate toy librarians’ reflection in the different dimension of toy libraries’ work. Later on, this could be a basis to an inquiry about status and principle of operation of European Toy libraries or be used in other countries. Further developments will be shared.

ITLA’s Next Conference will be hosted by the Netherlands in 2017

INTERNATIONAL TOY LIBRARIES ASSOCIATION (ITLA) PRESENTATION IN ITLA’S CONFERENCE - SEOUL Renate Fuchs presented ETL Documentation in ITLA’s Seoul Conference last August and received a very good feedback from the conference attendees. You can consult the document in our website at european-toy-libraries-etl-eng

ITLA’S NEXT CONFERENCE - THE NETHERLANDS The Netherland will host ITLA’s next Conference, probably around May. We can expect a 3-4 days conference with workshops, presentations and excursions but more detailed information will be shared as soon as possible. It is the first European venue conference since 2008 and we expect that all our European collegues could attend and support the Netherlands in achieving a very fulfilling conference.


SOCIAL PROGRAMME The meeting was held in Lancy’s Toy Libraries and ETL members had the opportunity to get to know the toy library and the work carried out not only by the NEXT MEETING:

Swiss Association but also by the Geneva Association. The organizers also took the Group on a tour around Geneva. We thank all the

Date: April 15th –16th 2016

people who helped to organize this meeting and the social programme for such a wonderful time spent in Switzerland.

Place: Bruges, Belgium

ETL Group in Geneva

The next meeting will be held in Bruges, Belgium.

ETL HISTORY AND MEMBERS The Group of European Toy Libraries (ETL) was founded in 1996 during the 7th International Conference on Toy Libraries in Zurich (Switzerland). ETL is committed to the beliefs that play, playthings and playful interaction are essential to optimal education, physical, psychological, social and cultural development. It has as current members the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. ETL is a section of the International Toy Libraries Association of (ITLA) and works in close co-operation with ITLA.

4 © Child Support Institute, 2015

Newsletter Nr 6 - Geneve  

European Toy Libraries Newsletter Nr 6 - Geneve

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