History of Toy Libraries Internationally

It is generally acknowledged that the first toy lending library opened in Los Angeles in 1935. It has been verified by the International Toy Library Association as the oldest in the world. Its formation began in the summer of the 1934 during the Great Depression.

Toy lending libraries can be found in many parts of the world, just to name a few.Visit the International Toy Library Association page for more information.  http://www.itla-toylibraries.org/ 

Sweden - The person who gets credit for starting the toy library movement in Europe is Dr. Karin Stensland Junker.  She had two children with severe handicaps, she started a play library in 1963 with the mother of another handicapped child.

Norway - In 1969 a preschool teacher, Unni Boehmer, began the first Norwegian toy library.

United Kingdom - The first British toy library was set up in 1967 by Jill Norris, a teacher, who had two children who were handicapped. In 1972 the Toy Libraries Association was formed. In 1983 the name PLAY MATTERS was adopted by the association. In Scotland the playbus movement started in the 1970s.

Canada - The Canadian Association of Toy Libraries was founded in 1975 under the leadership of Joanna von Levetzow, a social worker from England. By 1985 there were more than 200 toy libraries around Canada.

Netherlands - The first toy library in Holland started in 1973 in Haarlem. This toy library was intended for children with handicaps.

Australia - Much of the credit for developing toy libraries in Australia goes to Annetine Forell. She visited England and discovered the toy libraries there, so she set up on in Melbourne in 1971.

Switzerland - Ann Libbrecht Gourdet and several parents formed the first toy library in 1972 in the German part of Switzerland.

Russia - The first toy library opened in Moscow in the summer of 1992

New Zealand - in 1972 Miss Gillian Gorick, a physiotherapist from Hamilton took up the idea of a Toy Library with the Crippled Children Society. Planning began, and in 1974 Hamilton became the first center in New Zealand to have a Toy Library. Since then others have taken up the challenge, and there are now over 220 toy libraries spread between KeriKeri and Invercargill.