FIVE rural public libraries in Penang are now more colourful and appealing, especially to young children, following the opening of toy libraries within their premises.
The toy libraries also have colourful wall murals of cartoon characters that brighten up the place.
Initiated by the Children & Child Heart Clinic and Pertubuhan Wanita Mutiara (an organisation for the wives of Penang’s elected representatives and women elected representatives), the toy libraries were part of their Penang Toys Stories project that was started in September.
Project adviser Dr Sim Joo Seng said both organisations had earlier opened three toy libraries at the National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) Penang branch on Jalan Pantai Jerejak, the Penang Down Syndrome Association (PDSA) premises on Lebuhraya Rose in Pulau Tikus and the Penang Mental Health Association’s 2 Way Centre on Jalan Gurdwara.
“We decided to extend our project to the rural libraries as some of the children who come here do not have toys in their homes.
“It is also better to have the toys placed in a community area so that the children can learn to play together instead of by themselves,” he said.
He was speaking after Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng simultaneously opened the five toy libraries at the Perkampungan Juru Rural Library in Juru, Bukit Mertajam, recently.
The other rural libraries with the toy libraries are located in Macallum Street (George Town) and Pantai Acheh (Balik Pulau) on the island, and Lahar Minyak (Kepala Batas) and Sungai Acheh (Nibong Tebal) on the mainland.
Dr Sim said that since the project’s inception, about a tonne of used toys had been collected from the public every month.
He said these toys were cleaned and rehabilitated before being put in the libraries.
Penang Library Corporation Board director Shukriyah Yon said the public libraries in Seberang Jaya and George Town presently had educational toys but not soft toys.
“Once the children are attracted to the toys, we believe they can also be interested in reading the books as well,” she said.
Chong Eng said toys played an important role in nurturing a child’s creativity and communications skills.
“Many children these days are unduly pressured to excel in their studies.
“But we need to look at our children’s potential in other areas as well to develop well-balanced characters in them,” she said.
Those wishing to donate toys can drop them off at the NASOM Penang branch (04-6587034), PDSA (04-2274917), Pulau Tikus assemblyman Koay Teng Hai’s service centre on Jalan Peirce (04-2263227), Montessori Children’s House in Jalan Gelugor (04-6579231), Sim Children & Child Heart Clinic (04-6584058), Gama Supermarket & Departmental Store and Sunway Carnival Mall Seberang Jaya.