More Than Just Play: University-Based, Multiple Intelligences–Inspired Toy Library

Mary Katherine Waibel Duncan


In an unpublished master’s thesis, Julia E. Moore described the history of toy libraries in the United States. According to Moore, the first known toy library appeared in Los Angeles in 1935 during the Great Depression to afford children free access to games and toys. Toy libraries became more widespread in the 1960s and 1970s as women increasingly entered the workforce, the number of preschools and daycare programs grew, and the Children’s Services Division (now ALSC) of the American Library Association supported the practice of loaning play materials. In the 1980s, lekoteks, or toy libraries that provide children with a disability access to specialized play materials and offer families professional advice about supporting their children’s development through play, were introduced to America. Today, supported by organizations such as the USA Toy Library Association (, the National Lekotek Center (, and the International Toy Library Association (, thousands of toy libraries with widely varying missions exist worldwide.

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