There is one thing I know to be an absolute truth in the babywearing world: we take our baby carrier lending libraries very seriously. They not only serve as a teaching and research tool for caregivers, but also as a cost effective means of borrowing a carrier as an alternative to buying. For chapters who choose to maintain a lending library as an extension of the babywearing support and education they provide, an abundance of time and resources are invested in building them. An extension of that investment is special consideration for how the library is protected and transported between meetings. The best method of storage and transport will depend on library size, distance between meeting locations, and other criteria unique to each chapter.
There are several tried and true methods of carrier storage. Some could be less durable than others, but may be more cost effective if replacement is necessary. Some examples include:
- IKEA blue zipper totes
- Large plastic storage totes
- Hockey gear bags
- Rolling luggage, duffel bags, or suitcases
- Old plastic zip bags for comforters and sheets
Getting from Point A to Point B
As your chapter and library grows, the logistics of how to move it between meeting locations will depend on several factors. Many chapters find it helpful to establish a librarian role to help manage the library, and may need the assistance of several volunteers to help transport it between locations.
Consider the method of transportation. If you’ll be using a smaller vehicle or have car seats to contend with, flexible storage may be a better fit rather than hard-sided plastic storage bins. If you’ll be utilizing public transportation, consider wheeled carts or rolling luggage. Consider durability if your library frequently moves between meeting locations or travels long distances. Hard-sided totes may stand up to the rigors of travel and be a better investment than some of the less expensive options.
For chapters with multiple meetings a month within shorter distances of each other, it can be helpful to designate a centrally located volunteer to assist with transporting the library between locations or to other volunteers in order to reduce travel. For chapters with multiple meetings across a large geographical area, it can be helpful to create smaller libraries for each region rather than transporting one large library across longer distances. Consider assigning the role of regional librarian to volunteers located in each region to maintain and store the library between meetings.
Tips for staying organized
Keeping your lending library organized makes for easier meeting setup and proper inventory of carriers and accessories. Some helpful tips to stay organized include:
- Organize carriers by type in individual storage containers for quick meeting setup. This is especially helpful if you assign stations by carrier type during meetings.
- Depending on the size of your library, you might consider separating and storing carriers by size.
- Label storage containers. Labeling each container makes for easier setup and less hunting.
- Store carrier accessories such as inserts, hoods, and drool pads in their own container.
- Store demo dolls in a designated container for easy transport.
- Fold your carriers at the end of your meeting prior to storing them for faster setup at your next meeting.
- Create a separate, labeled storage container for carrier or accessory returns that need laundering to prevent them from getting mixed up with rest of your library. The same applies for carriers that need repair.
Building a lending library is one of the biggest investments a chapter can make and an invaluable resource for the communities who utilize them. An effective means of storage and transport is crucial for protecting that investment and keeping it organized and available for use at meetings. There are many ways to do that depending on the needs of each chapter and how the chapter grows and changes over time. Have you found something particularly helpful when transporting your lending library?