Finger Lakes Toy Library

A Note from GreenStar:  Finger Lakes Toy Library was elected by GreenStar members to be among our twelve 2024 Partners for Change. Finger Lakes Toy Library is the April Positive Change recipient.

The Finger Lakes Toy Library (FLTL) is an independently operated 501(c)(3) community toy lending library located in The Shops of Ithaca Mall. Their mission is to improve quality of life by increasing access to toys, supporting play, and encouraging a culture of reuse and sharing. FLTL’s goals from the very beginning have been to:

  • Obtain a collection of high-quality toys for everyone to share
  • Foster child development and build community through play
  • Support the role of play in education
  • Enhance quality of life by reducing waste, reducing stress, and encouraging cooperation within both individual families and the greater community
  • Provide a space for the community to gather to play with toys and to discuss play and toy related issues

Since 2017, FLTL has been lending toys to the community just like the library lends books. FLTL currently lends over 1700 toys, games, and puzzles that emphasize high-quality, environmentally-friendly, gender-neutral, educational, and/or non media-based toys as well as toys that encourage open-ended, creative, and imaginative play. FLTL has 456 member families and is steadily growing.

Equity is important at FLTL. Thanks to the generosity of donors, FLTL fulfills its promise to offer membership using a pay-what-you-can-honestly-afford membership donation model with no minimum. This helps make borrowing toys possible for all families regardless of ability to donate. Unlike most book libraries, FLTL doesn’t receive public funding and thus needs to
constantly fundraise to continue providing access to all.

FLTL is a resource for parents and caregivers to visit as a destination activity to play with toys in community with other families, and to talk to staff, volunteers, and other caregivers to learn about developmentally-appropriate toys and games. Our space is open 30 hours per week for
all to browse and play regardless of membership.

FLTL also serves many more non-member families by bringing toys out into the community in collaboration with partner organizations through its offsite ‘Playtime’ programming. Playtimes are designed to improve equity by bringing toys to children in the community who might otherwise be unable to access FLTL services due to barriers such as transportation, time constraints, housing insecurity, etc.

A staff member at GIAC, one of FLTL’s partner organizations, said:

“Playtimes from the FLTL supports and encourages creative play for our youth participants and develops their social skills with each other.”

Additionally, FLTL strives to provide our resources and services to all, including our members, staff, and volunteers, without discrimination; regardless of socioeconomic status, school status, ability, race, color, creed, national origin, religion, gender, sex, and sexual orientation, nor for any other reason; to be environmentally conscious; and to support our local economy whenever possible and practical.

Thank you for supporting FLTL through GreenStar’s Partners for Change program. Please visit www.fingerlakestoylibrary.org to find out more and email debra.lewis@fingerlakestoylibrary.org to learn about Sponsor-A-Section and Sponsor-A-Month opportunities available for businesses
and individuals.