2017 Best of Cincinnati - City Beat!

Best Library Where Talking is Encouraged

The Play Library, a place that felt straight out of the Tom Hanks movie Big, wasn't kidding around about providing everyone with access to high quality toys and games. The all-ages lending and activity space that People's Liberty grantee, Julia Fischer operated last year in the philanthropy's Over-the-Rhine storefront, returned March 15, 2017, just a few blocks away. And that makes us want to shout - which is totally okay in a library where being quiet is not the idea. Fischer, a former toy designer, will again be stocking hundreds of playthings as well as planning 21+ game nights and family fun times that encourage everyone to make-believe and make new friends. YAY!!

You can see it for yourself here.

Shareable: These 5 Lending Libraries Are Redefining the Meaning of Ownership

I came across this one via googling " play library" on the world wide web! Thank you, Shareable!

By Cat Johnson | April 19, 2017

Libraries are no longer just places to borrow books. In recent years, libraries across the world have undergone a seismic transformation to better serve the needs of local communities. In fact, the very notion of what constitutes a "library" is being re-imagined.

In Toronto, Canada, a new Sharing Depot just opened where people can borrow all kinds of things, from sporting goods to camping equipment. The Sharing Depot builds on the success of the global Library of Things movement. On the neighborhood level, there's been a number of creative little free libraries that have been popping up. These libraries function differently from their larger counterparts, in that people are free to take — instead of simply borrow — books, and they can leave any old or unwanted books in the libraries for others to take. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, Jessica McClard took inspiration from little free libraries and set up a wildly successful little free pantry to share food and household items. 

We've rounded up five organizations that are re-thinking what can be loaned and borrowed:

Play Library is #2. Here's a link to the blog post.

Cincinnati Business Courier: Board game library opening in OTR

Mar 13, 2017, 2:56pm EDT Updated Mar 13, 2017, 3:01pm EDT | Written by Andy Brownfield, ReporterCincinnati Business Courier


A gaming library that started as a People's Liberty-funded popup is getting a permanent home in Over-the-Rhine.

Play Library originally opened as a popup in the Globe Gallery across from Findlay Market. It's celebrating its grand opening at 1517 Elm St. in OTR on March 15.

The library is the brainchild of former toy design manager Julia Fischer.

"The popup was so successful, we decided to keep the idea going," she told me. "Our goal is to get families to play together and connect, so we have stuff that appeals to all ages, not just little kid things."

All of the library's games are free to play in its physical location, which is housed in 1,065 square feet. The library has new and classic board and card games but also classic video game systems to allow parents (or nostalgic millennials like myself) to play systems from their youth with their kids.

Article continues. Click here to read it in its entirety.


Cincinnati Refined: The Play Library Is Like A Regular Ol' Library, Except You Rent Out Toys & Games

Check out the whole slideshow here!

Play Library in OTR has a wide assortment of entertainment for both adults and children alike. It features hundreds of games and toys that you can rent out just as you would books at a library. As a bonus, Cincinnati’s first toy history museum is located on site. ADDRESS: 1517 Elm St (45202) / Image: Brianna Long // Published 6.29.17

Over-the-Rhine's Play Library throws grand opening party in new, permanent space

By WCPO Staff | Posted 9:43am Mar 14, 2017

CINCINNATI -- Play Library, an innovative concept that serves as a library for toys and games, will officially open its new brick-and-mortar space for business 11 a.m. Thursday, following a grand opening party open to the public at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Created by a former toy design manager, Julia Fischer, Play Library operates just like any other library – except it doesn't lend books. Rather, it lends games and toys.

Click here to read the rest!

Cincinnati Street Vibes Features Play Library

Edition No. 353 | April 7-April 20, 2017

Article by Gretchen Marie Semancik

Imagine a job that encourages imagination and playing all day long. Offering over 1000 games and toys, the Play Library gives families the opportunity to check out and return toys instead of buying them.

The mastermind behind Play Library is Julia Fischer. Fischer says her inspiration behind a business based around play is that her greatest memories are of playing boardgames with her parents. "I just want parents to remember it's the quality of time, not the quantity" spent together, she says.

Article continues. Not published online. See photo in our social media (instagram @theplaylibrary) to read the full article. 

OTR's Play Library offers toys and games on loan, helps Cincy settle into global sharing economy


On March 15, Over-the-Rhine will welcome a playful new member to its family of innovative businesses, as the Play Library — a loan library for toys and games — opens two blocks from Washington Park and just steps from the streetcar stop at Liberty and Elm.

“Librarian” Julia Rose Fischer is excited to welcome children of all ages, and she knows toys. Originally from New York City, she worked in Los Angeles after college, designing for retailers with low price points. She was feeling disappointed with the quality of the low-cost materials when the idea for the Play Library came to her.

Click here for the rest of the article!


PreBoot Cincy EP 15: Julia Fischer: Founder, Play Advocate, Sweeping Enthusast | Play Library

Podcast interview and editing by PreBoot Owner, Eric Sillies

Listen to our Founder, Executive Director schmooze about "success" and startin' a business. Link here. Click it. Listen it. Love it. Subscribe to @preboot_cincy who is doing amazing things for Cincinnati's Start-Up Community.


OTR's Play Library offers toys and games on loan, helps Cincy settle into global sharing economy

On March 15, Over-the-Rhine will welcome a playful new member to its family of innovative businesses, as the Play Library — a loan library for toys and games — opens two blocks from Washington Park and just steps from the streetcar stop at Liberty and Elm.

“Librarian” Julia Rose Fischer is excited to welcome children of all ages, and she knows toys. Originally from New York City, she worked in Los Angeles after college, designing for retailers with low price points. She was feeling disappointed with the quality of the low-cost materials when the idea for the Play Library came to her.

Click here to read the rest of this fantastic, on the nose article!

Great Idea: The Play Library, by Cincinnati Parent Magazine

Great Idea: The Play Library

This OTR gem is one big toy chest! - 01 Aug 2016 by Andrea Limke

My kids love to play with toys. They especially love to play with toys when we are somewhere other than our home.  The “grass is always greener” when it comes to toys, which can lead to a lot of frustration…and wasted money.  Well, Julia at The Play Library has solved this problem for us, as she has created one of the most unique and innovative places I have ever visited.

Here's a link to the full article

Play Library Featured in 5chw4r7z Blog!

People's Liberty located at 1805 Elm St directly across the street from Findlay Market always has something amazing happening in their Globe Space. They're been hitting home runs with their Globe Grants which allow an artist to take over the space for amazing interactive art installations.
The latest is the Play Library, like a regular library except instead of books patrons will check out games. There are borrowing memberships available but you can also take the games with a deposit. Julia Fischer is hoping to acquire enough memberships to make the Play Library permanent somewhere in OTR. 
Tomorrow night, July 21st the Play Library will host Beer & Board Games from 6-10pm. The adults only (obviously) evening will feature games such as Cards Against, DrunkQuest and Exploding Kittens! I love Exploding Kittens, its kind of like Uno, except instead of shouting Uno your kitten explodes. If you are a fan of The Oatmeal you'll understand Exploding Kittens immediately. 
It sounds like the Play Library host these every other Thursday so if you are child free and don't have kiddos to entertain, you can still take advantage and enjoy the library.

Link to the full post

SoapBox Cincinnati Highlights Play Library & People's Liberty

People’s Liberty hosted “Globe in the Dark” June 24 to introduce Julia Fischer’s Play Library, the second of three winners of its 2016 Globe Grants that award exhibition projects $15,000 and six weeks in its Globe Gallery storefront across from Findlay Market.
Fischer’s Play Library is exactly what it sounds like, a “library” that loans toys and games instead of books. Through donations, memberships and the help of volunteers, the project aims to make a variety of toys and games accessible to people of all ages to encourage the benefits of creative play.

Link to article

The Play Library and Julia Fischer in CityBeat

A day before the debut, Fischer arrived at the space in a red dress that conveyed she was a woman in charge, and red canvas sneakers that gave away the girl inside. The 35-year-old presented her business card, then quickly pointed out that its reverse features instructions for folding it into a glider. She later revealed a tattoo of a paper airplane’s flight on one wrist, and on the other a surreal scene of a treehouse, a bunny swinging and a UFO abducting a dinosaur.

PL is Officially one of FatBrain Toys' "Partners in Play"

Thank you, FatBrain Toys, for signing Play Library on as one of your Official "Partners in Play". In exchange for blogging, FatBrain donates new, high quality toys and games to the Play Library! Here's a link to our first blog post.




Let's Talk Toy Loan Libraries

Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I was in the toy industry for years. When asked what I do for a living, to make it easy on people, I'd tell them I was a toy designer. While not exactly accurate—I was more of a producer—it would always garner the same response: "OMG, so is your job like the movie 'Big'?" (Unless at a bar, then it was "What kid of toys?" followed by a wink...). 

Making toys is a cool job. Like, really cool. We get to buy and test out toys on the market, toss around our zaniest ideas, and public conversations can safely revolve around poop and farts! But, sadly, it isn't exactly like the movie ‘Big’. Money, and retailers, in large part, dictate which toys end up in stores… and not everyone thinks poop is as funny as we do(o doo).

(click here to read more

Play Library featured in WCPO Insider

So like, no big deal or whatever but Cincinnati's WCPO Insider just wrote up a piece on the the Play Library. For those who don't subscribe, here's the whole thing.

CINCINNATI — Play time is no longer just for children.

That is the message Julia Fischer will deliver this summer when she opens the Play Library near Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine.
“The Play Library is just like a regular library, except instead of books it is checking out toys and games,” said Fischer, who worked in the toy industry for 12 years. “The idea of it is, the whole thing behind the library, is that it is a place where people can come and play together.”

The library, which is scheduled to open on June 24, will be located inside of the lobby of People's Liberty at 1805 Elm St. Members will be able to check out items for a nominal fee, and visitors will be able to play with toys and games for free on site, Fischer said.
People's Liberty, a philanthropic foundation that promotes positive community growth and interaction, donated the space for the Play Library for three months as part of a $15,000 Globe grant it awarded Fischer in 2015. The Globe grant, named after the building that People's Liberty occupies, is one of 21 grants that the organization awards each year.

"People’s Liberty, in general, is looking for creative people in the community who have ideas we think are going to get people to engage and react with others," said Eric Avner, People's Liberty CEO. "Julia’s idea was playful. It was for all ages. It transcended all backgrounds. Everybody likes to play. It was an easy fit for us."

Fischer said a phone conversation with her mother while she lived in Los Angeles a few years ago sparked the idea for the library. Her mother apologized for not spending enough time with her as a child because of work and other commitments. Fischer said she found the apology unnecessary; her best childhood memories were of playing with her parents.

“It’s quality of time over quantity of time,” Fischer said. “Play connects people — family, friends and neighbors.”

When she moved to Cincinnati almost two years ago for work she fell in love with Over-the-Rhine.

“There are a lot of different socio-economic groups there and I would like for everyone to play and get along,” she said.

Fischer began collecting donations for the library from former employers several months ago. She is also hosting an all-ages “Play Date” event from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at Rhinegeist Brewery, at 1910 Elm St. People can play, enjoy a beer and donate gently used toys and games to the library.

Fischer also plans to host summer play camps at Washington Park and special event nights in the library once it opens.

“What I hope to stress is that it’s not just for kids,” she said. “I want people to know it’s for everyone.”

Fischer also hopes she will find the library a permanent home in September through the exposure and support provided by People's Liberty. Past Globe grant recipients, such as We Have Become Vikings, have experienced continued success after their tenure at People's Liberty, Avner said.

"They are just individuals who have very interesting ideas," Avner said of his organization's grant winners. "Those are people who are going to take a larger role in the community as well. I expect Julia will leave her mark on this city and community."

We Won!!! - City Beat announces People's Liberty 2015 Globe Grant Winners

Kings, Toys and Rube Goldberg - People’s Liberty announces 2016 Globe Grant winners

Fischer, whose gallery takeover begins June 24, 2016 from 6-9 p.m., knows how the toy business works from the nine years she spent employed in it in Los Angeles. During that time, she visited manufacturers in China and found a sad truth hiding behind much of their work.

“When you’re creating something, you have a great idea,” she says, “but when you are openly selling it, you have to cost-reduce the whole thing. So we were making things we knew were going to break in three months. We were just creating landfill and I found it really upsetting.

“There are toys made with amazing materials, but they are unaffordable to so many people,” she continues. 

In L.A., she thought about creating a Play Library — not specifically just for high-quality toys, but a place where they would also be available along with everything else. She even collected donations. Then she moved here (she’s a native New Yorker) and brought along her inventory. So she applied for a Globe Grant. 

Her plan is to create a hip, colorful place stocked with toys and physical games (rather than video) that adults can play, too. “I definitely intend to have evenings for adults to come in and have game nights,” Fischer says.

“I want all children — all the people — to be able to play with that stuff,” she says. “Where I grew up, we used the public library all the time. I thought if I could do that with toys and playing, that’d be the most fun place ever.”