The Minneapolis Toy Library is a toy lending program which seeks to reduce waste, foster child development, and build community in the Minneapolis area. The toy library opened in spring of 2015 and by summer of 2016 it was receiving some national attention for its innovative model. In March of 2016, they shared their story in a webinar through the Center for the New American Dream, How to Start Your Own Toy Library. They have also received acknowledgment through a Hennepin County Green Partners Grant. The Toy Library continues to expand both their collection and their services.
Where to Find The Minneapolis Toy Library
Southside Toy Library
The Toy Library has recently found a permanent home at Richfield Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. This has addressed some of my early concerns with the program. Lending events are scheduled every other week on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Members can pick out toys and return toys from previous events at these times. Toys may be borrowed for up to four weeks. The fine for late toys is $1.00 if you can't make it to an event to return your toys (or arrange to return them prior to an event).
Northeast Toy Library - Coming Soon
In fall of 2021, the Toy Library announced it was expanding with a new branch in Northeast Minneapolis. Currently, they are seeking a long term space that can accommodate the toys and borrowers in an open space around 600-1,000 sq/ft. Watch for pop up events while you wait!
Toy Library Membership
The Minneapolis Toy Library offers a sliding scale membership. Families are asked to pay what feels comfortable:
- $40 - sustains operations
- $50 - purchase new toys
- $60 - pay for marketing materials
- $70 - community play opportunities
- $80 - offer scholarships
- $90 - space expansion
- $100 - foundational membership
Why We Love the Minneapolis Toy Library
Besides their commitment to the environment and economy through fostering good stewardship of toys, I am also very impressed with their practice using a portion of their grant money to purchase toys made by local toy makers.
This concept is great for families with younger children, who want fewer toys. Their collection is mainly geared toward younger children, but as they grow, so does their collection.
Is the Minneapolis Toy Library Right for You?
If your schedule works with their open hours, you don't want to have an over-abundance of toys cluttering up your home, and you have transportation, the Toy Library could be your best friend. Even at the increased $40/year, you would have a hard time beating that price and variety, even shopping secondhand.
As the Minneapolis Toy Library grows, they continue to try to address barriers to membership. Recently, they made this suggestion on Facebook, that responds to transportation issues:
The southside library is open every 2nd and 4th week on:
- Mondays 9 - 12pm
- Wednesdays 6 - 9pm
- Saturdays 9 - 12pm
Watch our calendar for Northeast pop up events until they have a permanent space with permanent hours.
This article was originally written by Gianna Kordatzky
shortly after the Toy Library opened in Fall 2015
I visited Rebecca Nutter, one of the founding partners of the Minneapolis Toy Library, on a beautiful September morning. We were joined by her beautiful 2 month old, 3 year old and said 3 year old's Luke Skywalker. We chatted with Rebecca about the Toy Library and how it works. We also discussed the library's goals for the future.
All the while Luke Skywalker was taking a nap in the pasture with the horse and cow at my feet.
The Minneapolis Toy Library launched just 4 months ago in May, 2015.
As conscientious moms, four ladies jumped on board to create a better community and lives for their families. They want to reduce waste, foster development (in children) and build community.
Taryn Tessneer recruited three other women to build the Development Team: Rebecca Nutter who has a background in early childhood education, Molly Stein who is working to register the library as a non-profit and Rosie Call who is from Australia and had a toy library there.
Unfortunately, shortly after the launch, Taryn moved out of the metro, but she has left the fate of the Minneapolis Toy Library in dependable hands.
We are excited to have the Minneapolis Toy Library in our community. Rotating toys out of the house is a perfect answer for families with kids under the age of 6, and it's a lifesaver for families in small houses. Not only is it a great resource for parents, but it is also a great option for grandparents and aunts and uncles. Thanks so much, Minneapolis Toy Library!
First Year Goals
At the time Gianna wrote the article above, the Toy Library had several goals. We've listed them and are happy to share that they have achieved those goals
- Build their membership to 400. They currently are just shy of 400 members, and have well over 2000 Facebook fans.
- Become a Non-Profit. At the time, they were in the process of the paperwork and registration. They have since finalized their non-profit status. This is very important to them because the funds they have through membership fees are used to grow the toy collection. As a non-profit, they can also register for grants to support this service to the community.
- Find a Permanent Space. In that first year, toys were stored in board members garages and closets. Rebecca and other volunteers hauled toys to and from events. Members found it hard to get to ever-revolving events. They even attempted a summer of working out of Rebecca's garage. But in 2016, they moved into their current location at Richfield Lutheran Church and have been able to grow as a result.