06 Jun

The importance of lending libraries

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A lending library waiting to be sorted.

Finding a carrier that works for you can be a daunting process, especially if you are just dipping your toes into the wonderful world of babywearing. With so many different types of carriers available these days, choosing your first can be understandably, rather confusing and a tiny bit scary. Worry not, a lending library may be the answer to your babywearing conundrum!

BWI of Savannah uses rolling suitcases to house its lending library, making it easier to bring to meets. — Pic credit BWI of Savannah

BWI of Savannah uses rolling suitcases to house its lending library, making it easier to bring to meets. — Pictures credit BWI of Savannah

What is a lending library, you might ask?

A lending library is a library with various types of carriers that you can try and as a member, check out for a duration of time, just like you would with books at a traditional library. Most Babywearing International chapters have their own lending libraries in varying sizes, depending on the area they serve and the number of members they have.

Big or small, a lending library is usually staffed by volunteer babywearing educators, and is a wonderful way to try different types of carriers. It is a great way to try before you buy, especially if you are carrier-curious but may not want to spend the money on something you might end up not liking very much.

I first went to a babywearing meet when my son was about three months old. My elder sister had used a ringsling with her children, so that was my first choice to use once my son arrived. I was however intrigued by woven wraps, but thought they looked a little too complicated for me to learn how to use one on my own.

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Attending our first BWI meet and learning how to wrap.

So off to Facebook I went, and found out that there was a local babywearing group near me. I went to a meet and the educators helped me find something that worked for me.

Having that hands-on help was really important as they gave me pointers on how to wear my son correctly and safely. That really boosted my confidence and made me feel a lot more confident when wrapping my son at home.

Not only that, a lending library also acts as a learning library and are essential in any outreach efforts. Sometimes babywearing groups hold outreach programs, and having various style carriers in the lending library allows them to demonstrate how each carrier is used.

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VBE Mikaela and VBE Danielle at an outreach program.

Having several carriers in different sizes means options for its members, and this is important as carrier preferences may vary from one person to the next. It is essential that you try and find one that works for you — instead of going with what is popular — as what works for one person may not work out for you.

Chapter volunteers are not only responsible for running instructional meets but also keep up the maintenance of the lending library. Usually each chapter will have its own librarian, who keeps an eye on all things related to the lending library like keeping tabs of late carriers, but the other volunteers will usually pitch in to help with the library maintenance.

This includes making sure all carriers are tagged properly, checking them to see if there are any flaws and if they need replacing as well as keeping abreast with the current safety standards to ensure only safe carriers are kept in the library. Based on feedback from members, chapter volunteers also work on getting new carriers added and retiring old ones to ensure there is a growth to the lending library as well as keeping it relevant.

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VBE Abbie putting carriers into the inventory list.

So if you have a carrier than you don’t use anymore, instead of donating them to a thrift store, why not find a local lending library and donate your carrier to them. As BWI is also a registered non-profit organization, your donation is tax deductible, so you can request for a tax donation receipt whenever and if you do donate carriers to them.

  • All pictures courtesy of BWI of Savannah.

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