Data Blog

Many toy libraries record (or have the option to record) how a toy library member 'discovered' (became aware of and sought out) their local toy library on membership forms. Did you ever think this data could be useful? It is useful - ideally - it would be filled out for every member when they join up.

Some of the toy libraries who began using SETLS went with the option to transfer the database from their legacy system over to ours - which is useful from a data gathering perspective. This data analysis includes historical data that came from databases going back more than 3 years (up to 7 year in some cases)!

In SETLS, the discovery types options in a form are controlled by the admin user, so that a new member filling out a form (online) or a volunteer/other admin user adding a new member can choose from a limited list - reducing ambiguity, randomly entered words and multiples of words with different spellings/capitalisations. This has limitations - e.g. the toy library may only have five discovery types but not included an important ones that they may not have though of - a user filing in this form not seeing an option there would therefore probably not select any option in this form field.

Not all members fill out this data on a form - either thinking that it is not useful or relevant, or because, given a set list of options, none applied.

How can you reach out to potential members

Local festivals, community events such as fetes (primary school/school) and markets sometimes have opportunities (low cost hopefully!) to set up a stand to showcase or explain what your toy library has to offer. This is a worthwhile consideration.

Signage: includes the visibility from a street perspective of your toy library. If you drove or walked past, could you easily identify that there was a toy library there? Some toy libraries actually have street sign posts pointing to them! Display signs out the front - posted on the day/times the toy library is up (could only catch a small % of potential members who happened to be passing by on the few hours a week the library is open) - are signs up permanently in front of the building?

Book library: book libraries offer option to display some of the toys - e.g. Kew Library certainly does this! Definitely a popular and commonly selected option: libraries (in councils in Melbourne) at least have many activities for young children and babies that facilitate mothers and new parents meeting other mothers and new parents - - e.g. mothers groups meet at book libraries, baby sing along sessions, story time.


The most commonly selected discovery type options include 'word of mouth -- friends and family' and 'child nurse'. Given that these two categories represent the largest percentages by far above all the other options it would be fair to say that these are the most common discovery types!