Aussies celebrate 'very clever' trend popping up on beaches

The community-focused concept has increasingly moved from Australia's residential streets to the sand.

They're easy to miss, but a growing trend is being spotted on the country's beaches with many Australians absolutely loving the "very clever" idea.

You've almost certainly heard of street libraries – where members of the public are able to swap, donate and borrow used books housed in small weather-proof cases on residential streets – but a beachside equivalent appears to be growing in popularity as well. Designed to make going to the beach just a little bit easier, beach 'toy libraries' have begun popping up along Australia's coastline.

South Australian MP Stephen Mullighan was among those to praise the idea after two toy libraries were erected on beaches in his state.

"Have you spotted these community beach toy libraries popping up along the coast? Take a toy down to the shore for the little ones to play with, and then return it to the library upon leaving," he wrote online this week, labelling it "an excellent community initiative".

Beach toy libraries pictured on the sand in Wooli in NSW and Semaphore beach in South Australia.
A toy library spotted in Wooli in NSW and one seen filled with trucks on Semaphore beach in SA. Source: Facebook

Another local Facebook group this week posted an image of what appears to be a new toy library at a beach in Wooli in NSW. That particular post inspired a makeshift effort to emulate the idea at a beach in Townsville, in Queensland, thanks to a Triple M radio host who wondered whether it could work in his city or whether people would simply abuse the idea.

Social media users have been sharing pictures of toy libraries at their local beach, including one on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and one erected by an 'upcycling' group in Largs Bay, South Australia.

Online, Australians professed to "love" the concept, calling it "very clever", "cute" and "such a cool idea", while some said they had written to their local council urging them to join the club.

Not only does it help teach young kids about sharing with the local community, it also helps tourists who are unlikely to travel with beach toys to still enjoy their use on the sand.

A beach toy library pictured in Largs Bay and one on Sydney's northern beaches.
A beach toy library in Largs Bay, SA (left) and one spotted on Sydney's northern beaches (right). Source: Facebook

Mel Lake, the General Manager of Street Library Australia, is not surprised the idea is taking off among Australians.

"It's just about creating a community and creating an opportunity for people to share resources," she told Yahoo News Australia.

The rise of street libraries ... and some with a twist

A long-time advocate of the concept, Mel said Australians across the country have taken the idea and run with it, swapping and sharing things from clothes to seeds and plant cut-offs with their fellow locals.

"There’s a few examples that kind of started with books and then they just grow into something else a bit wild and a bit crazy where people are giving away food, clothes, toys, or plants," she said. "I guess they test the water with books and then it's really only limited to people's imagination."

These street libraries in Karana Downs in Queensland offer books, seeds, kids toys and plant cut-offs to neighbours. Source: Facebook
These street libraries in Karana Downs in Queensland offer books, seeds, kids toys and plant cut-offs to neighbours. Source: Facebook

Street Libraries Australia sells the little library houses while also seeking to support and map the growing trend across the country. According to Mel, there are 4,700 street libraries registered with the non-profit organisation and countless others around Australia.

"I think people are still touched by the effects of Covid when we were all locked up and this sort of thing can be an antidote to that," she said.

As the saying goes, sharing is caring.

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