Homeless toy library set to close

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The North Otago Toy Library is to close its doors after being unable to secure new premises, leaving staff, volunteers and those who use the service “devastated”.
The lease on its Arundel St premises expires at the end of June with no option to renew, so the toy library, which has been open for 28 years, will cease to operate on June 21.
The privately-owned building sold a week after the toy library reopened after Christmas.
Its new owner honoured the toy library’s lease with the former owner which allowed the organisation to stay there until June 31, despite the fact the new owner had no legal obligation to do that.
North Otago Toy Library president Niamh Tomes said the service’s closure was a sad day for the town.
“We are devastated the library has to close, a feeling shared by the people who regularly visit the library. We have been touched by the messages of support we have received from our members and the wider community.”The toy library had been in negotiations with Waitaki District Council staff for more than two years to find appropriate premises to rent.
However, there are no council-managed buildings available that are suitable for the library’s purposes.
Due to the size of its stock _ more than 600 toys _ and the funding available for rent and insurance, its requirements are specific.
The library recently started negotiations to lease a portion of a retail outlet in the Victorian Precinct.
However, Mrs Tomes said that option was considered to be impractical in the short term and not viable in the long term.
She said a lack of finances was a major issue.
“With the exception of the paid librarian, the toy library is completely managed by volunteers and running it involves a massive amount of work.
“In addition to the overhead borne by any community group, we also have building management and maintenance, toy processing and the administration surrounding toy hire.
“We all put in hours of time and energy to provide a service we consider vital to the families of our community. Many of our members visit regularly; some of our members remember coming to the toy library when they were small children.
“We sincerely hope this situation is temporary.” Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said a lot of time had been spent trying to find suitable premises, and he was disappointed they could not be found.
“It’s been a bit of a frustrating situation because they offer such a great service and we’ve been unable to get the right solution.”He said it was not easy for the toy library to share a space.
“It’s not a case of being able to push the toys aside and let someone else use it.”Mr Kircher said the immediate focus was to get the toy library “back up and running as soon as possible”.