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Newsletter nº 7 (2016)

In 1995, Alice Lucot from the French Association of Toy Libraries and myself from the Swiss Association, we decided to send a questionnaire to the national associations of toy libraries in Europe, asking them if they were interested in a co -operation among the European toy Libraries. The answers were very encouraging and we decided to get one step further. During the International Conference of 1996 in Zurich, the representatives of the different countries agreed to work together. This was the beginning of the Group of European toy libraries. The purpose was and still is to improve the cooperation of toy libraries in Europe and to serve as a network throughout Europe. Since the beginning the European Group is an informal group with 20 countries adjoined so far. Every year a meeting of the members of ETL takes place in a different country.


This year the group of European Toy Libraries celebrates already the 20th anni-

 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.

versary. This will encourage us to continue our engagement. The work of ETL is described in the yearly News Letter of ETL and the website also informs about what is going on. The work is very encouraging and the contacts are precious and this is the reason why ETL will continue its work as an international group keeping in mind the definition of a toy library such as: “Toy libraries provide resources for play, including toys, games, trained staff and dedicated space on a non-commercial basis”.

Renate Fuchs, ETL coordinator

ETL MEETING—BRUGES, APRIL 2016 The 20th ETL meeting was held on April 15th and 16th, in Bruges, Belgium. The meeting was attended by the following participants: Belgium, England, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, Switzerland and Turkey. As always, we started with the short reports from the different countries. This is a very important topic. As it is interesting and inspiring to hear what happens in the different countries. This is always a very good opportunity to discuss about the different ways toy libraries work in Europe. The group continued to work on integration of different groups of the population such as seniors, adolescents, people from foreign countries and refugees. Last year we were already speaking about integration for refugees and seniors.

Still working on integration: for refugees, people from foreign countries, adolescents and elderly people. We are glad to share with you the group’s work on 3 areas: refugees, people from foreign countries and adolescents.

1) Refugees: We worked on integration for refuges last year, but in the meantime the situation has changed and it is a new challenge with the number of refugees many countries have at the moment. Integration will certainly ask a lot of engagement of the whole society and this has to be coordinated. We believe that toy libraries can help. Alongside with food, health… children needs to be children and play is a language! That kind of universal language that help to learn local language and that stimulates friendship between refugees-locals-families-kids-adults.

2) People from foreign countries: When moving to a new country, people experience some difficulties such as fear and lack of understanding and cultural differences and isolation. Toy libraries can offer some solutions: 

Support integration through play and songs;

Involve the whole family with the community.

Have in mind that toy libraries can stimulate play opportunities and help to meet new friends through play, with respect and responsibility, and so it is desirable to have the toy library’s rules in different languages and to support staff and volunteers to understand the role they can have in integrating foreign people. ETL’s members have a final message regarding this topic: the toy library is for the users, all of them! Help them take ownership!


CHALLENGES FOR TOY LIBRARIES (CONT.) 3) Adolescents: In this matter, there are strong differences in each country. The group ended up discussing about how to keep the toy library interesting for adolescents: 

Involve them on the toy library’s work, helping the professionals and giving them responsibility;

Organize game nights (board games usually are very interesting for them) and role play games where they can do small projects (e.g. choose the characters, the storyboard, the materials,..);

Offer them activities such as escape rooms and competitions on several areas;

Propose them to do stop motion films

“Movement” games where they can explore their bodies and the environment around them

Exciting and challenging activities seem to be the key to get adolescent enthusiastic with the toy library.

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

INTERNATIONAL TOY LIBRARIES ASSOCIATION (ITLA) ITLA’S NEXT CONFERENCE - THE NETHERLANDS Netherlands will host ITLA’s next Conference, from May 10th to 13th, 2017. You can get more informations at

International Conference


Date: May 10th –13th 2017

It was agreed that the 20th anniversary of ETL should be the principal part of the presentation of ETL at the conference.

Location: Corpus Congress Center in Leiden

Some short films from each ETL member were made and you can expect to see them on the conference. The members will share with you stories about ETL’s creation and fun facts that occurred on the past 20 years.

NEXT MEETING The next ETL meeting will take place during the conference in Leiden, in order to enable people to participate both in the conference and in the ETL meeting.


SOCIAL PROGRAMME The group was invited to a reception in the City Hall of Bruges which showed that the work of toy libraries is very much appreciated. ETL members had the opportunity, as usual, to get to know a toy library and the work carried out. We visited ‘Piepbal’, where we saw a Snoezel Room and had the opportunity to see some adapted toys for people with special needs.

Piepbal Toy Library

Another highlight of the social programme was the Guided Visit of the Game Archive at the Educational High School ‘Vivès’. The organizers also took the Group on a tour around Bruges. We thank all the people who helped to organize this meeting and the social programme for such a wonderful time spent in Belgium.


Reception at Bruges City Hall

ETL was at the City Hall of Bruges. 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, 2016

ETL members in Bruges

Newsletter Nr 7 - Brugges  

European Toy Libraries Newsletter Nr 7 - Brugges

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