‘Play­room of the city’ gets new­room to fos­ter play

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

En­joy­ing the toys in the new Palmer­ston North Toy Li­brary premises are Levi Aguilar, 2, and in the fore­ground Jedd Fraser, 4. Mov­ing from cramped con­di­tions on Am­ber­ley Ave to the off-road shop­ping precinct on the cor­ner of Church and Cook St across from the fire sta­tion dur­ing the last school hol­i­days, the li­brary now has plenty of room to dis­play, and for kids to play with a col­lec­tion of more than 2000 toys.

Toys can be tran­si­tory. And pricey. 40 years ago, to help counter these costs of child­hood, a group of par­ents set up the Palmer­ston North Toy Li­brary in the old Main St City Li­brary.

Since then, this ark of toys has moved pe­ri­od­i­cally, spend­ing time in the for­mer St Andrews Church hall in Ash­ley St, be­fore mov­ing to Queen El­iz­a­beth Col­lege in Edge­ware Rd in 2000, and then to the old Am­ber­ley Ave scout hall.

A new li­brary chap­ter was started dur­ing the re­cent school hol­i­days when its play­things and puz­zles were packed up and shifted from Am­ber­ley Ave where it had been for 18 months, to a more cen­tral lo­ca­tion.

A spa­cious premises in the Free­dom Print re­tail precinct on the cor­ner of Church and Cook streets across from the cen­tral fire sta­tion is now its new home.

Li­brary co-or­di­na­tor Jo Lewis has been part of the ‘‘play­room of the city’’ for decades, and is well ac­quainted with the li­brary’s his­tory.

‘‘It was orig­i­nally set up for chil­dren with spe­cial needs, and grew from there when it was opened up for every­one.’’

The new ac­ces­si­ble lo­ca­tion with plenty of free off-street park­ing ticks plenty of boxes for the mem­bers.

‘‘This place gives us the scope to dis­play them and more space for chil­dren to play while par­ents are choos­ing.’’

The value is ev­i­dent with chil­dren mak­ing happy use of the the area to give some of the play­things a good work­out.

‘‘There’s been lots of pos­i­tive feed­back about our lo­ca­tion and the park­ing. This could be the start of an­other growth spurt, and here we’re bet­ter equipped to sus­tain that growth.’’

Aimed at chil­dren be­tween baby­hood and around 8 years old, and spe­cial needs, the li­brary is ar­ranged in eas­ily iden­ti­fi­able sec­tions, which in­cludes large toys, fan­tasy and imag­i­na­tive play, puz­zles and fam­ily games.

Lewis has over­seen the col­lec­tion as it has built to more than 2000 items, keep­ing it or­gan­ised and un­der re­pair.

Fund­ing for li­brary ac­qui­si­tions comes from grants or­gan­i­sa­tion and in­cludes Lot­tery fund­ing and Lewis said there was great sup­port from mem­bers of Men­zshed who came in dur­ing the move and se­cured the shelv­ing.

Staffed by vol­un­teers, the toy li­brary is open Mon­day, Thurs­day and Satur­day from 9.30am to 12.30pm, with new sig­nage due soon to help pro­mote the Church St cor­ner.

DAVID UNWIN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Maya Eg­gers Ramirez, 1, makes the most of play­thing try-out time at the city’s new toy li­brary.

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