Babywearing International of the Twin Cities (BWITC) has hundreds of carriers in our lending library. Actually, we have not one but FOUR lending libraries — each one travels to specific meetings each month.
Curious about how the lending library works? What’s in it? How you can see the carriers in the lending library? All great questions!
Q: What is the lending library?
A: Babywearing International of the Twin Cities hosts meetings all over the metro each month. Since we provide an educational service at meetings, we maintain a collection of baby carriers to use for demonstration, teaching and trying on with the assistance of a Volunteer Babywearing Educator. As an additional benefit to our members, we offer the privilege of checking out up to two carriers for the month.
Q: Why do people use the lending library?
A: Lots of reasons, here are a few:
- Because I don’t know where to start or what to look for when choosing a baby carrier
- Because I want to see lots of options before deciding what they want to try
- Because I want to try different types of carriers
- Because I’d like to try on a specific brand or model before buying it
- Because I’m not sure what fits my, my partner’s or my child’s caregiver’s body type
- Because I want to use lots of carriers without committing to just one
- Because I’m not sure if I’ll use it enough to justify buying one
- Because wraps are so pretty but so expensive
- Because I don’t know if my baby will like it or not
- Because it might help my baby cry less but I’m not sure yet
- Because oftentimes it’s more cost-effective to become a member and check out a carrier each month than to buy one outright
- Because I don’t want to commit to a carrier my baby will grow out of
- Because I need something (anything!) to contain my toddler
- Because I wanted to see and try out that new carrier the chapter just got
- Because I want to see what a different fabric fiber or ring sling shoulder type feels like
- Because I want something to take on vacation or to a special event
- Because I want to try ALL.THE.CARRIERS.
Q: How big is the lending library?
A: We have over 350 carriers in our lending library, which is split into four sub-libraries. At any given meeting, we have at least 50 carriers laid out for people to use and later check out. Our four libraries are North, Central, East and South, and each one travels to specific meetings: https://bwitwincities.myturn.com/library/
Q: What kinds of carriers are in the lending library?
A: We have LOTS of carriers! We have an extensive collection of each of the four main carrier types (wraps, ring slings, meh dais/bei dais, and soft structured carriers) and many brands and styles to choose from. They are all listed on our lending library website, but you’ll need to come to a meeting to see them in person.
Q: How can I find out what carriers will be at the meeting I’m going to attend?
A: Your best bet is to visit our lending library website and filter by the library that will be traveling to that meeting. We can’t guarantee that a specific carrier will be available, but if you have a special request, feel free to contact us and we’ll see what we can do.
Q: If I’m not a member, can I still try on carriers at a meeting?
A: Absolutely! If you aren’t a member, you can still come to any meeting (free!) and look at, touch and try on any carrier in our lending library. We’ll even teach you how to use it! If you decide to become a member, you can take the carrier home and test drive it for the month.
Q: How can I check out a carrier from the lending library?
A: Once you find a carrier you’d like, you can ask a volunteer to help you check it out. Checkouts usually happen towards the end of a meeting. First, they will ask if you are a member. If you have never been a member of BWITC, they will help you sign up and agree to the lending library agreement. Then, they’ll look for an orange tag at the end of the carrier that has an ID number and enter it into our library software to check it out to you.
Q: Do I have to take the carrier off to check it out?
A: You can check out a carrier even if you are wearing it in most cases — pretty cool!
Q: Can I reserve a carrier?
A: Specific carriers are never guaranteed to be in stock and cannot be reserved. We like to give everyone a chance to look at the carriers we have in our lending library. Check outs are done on a first come, first served basis.
Q: Can I check out a carrier that is returned by someone else the day of the meeting I’m attending?
A: Unfortunately, no. We hold carriers from being checked out at the same meeting for a few reasons. We like to inspect and wash carriers that are soiled, we want each carrier to travel from meeting to meeting and we like to give other meetings’ attendees a chance to look at, touch, try on and check out popular carriers too.
Q: Can I check out the same carrier two months in a row?
A: We like to give everyone a chance to see every carrier, so we do not allow consecutive checkouts to the same person.
Q: Can I check out more than one carrier per month? How often can I check out a carrier?
A: You may check out up to two carriers at a time. And technically you can check out more than that each month — if you check out a carrier and return it to a meeting before the due date, you can check out another carrier as long as your membership is current.
Q: Can I take the carrier on vacation?
A: Sure! Just make sure it doesn’t get lost or damaged, please. We love to see photos of our library carriers in action, too!
Q: Who can use the carrier I check out?
A: We will teach you how to use the carrier you check out — that’s our promise to you. Anyone can wear the carrier you check out, but you will be responsible for it while it is checked out to you.
Q: What happens if the carrier needs to be washed?
A: Per the lending library agreement, we ask that carriers be returned “checkout ready.” This means without stains or odors and free from germs. This goes for accessories as well, like suck pads. If you need to clean a carrier, please contact a volunteer via our public Facebook page, ask for help in our private Facebook group, contact us, or send an email to email@example.com. Some carriers need specialized care when washing (like a wool wrap), so we can walk you through the steps, or we may ask you to return it to a volunteer for cleaning. The important thing is to contact us before cleaning any carrier.
Q: Do I have to return the carrier to the same meeting where I checked it out?
A: Nope! The carrier will be due at the same meeting the following month. You can return it at that meeting or at any meeting prior to that.
Q: What happens if I can’t return the carrier to the same meeting next month?
A: You can return it to any meeting before its due date. In special circumstances, you can return the carrier to a volunteer outside of a meeting. If the carrier is returned after its due date, late fees will be assessed according to our lending library agreement. If carriers are continually late, BWITC reserves the right to suspend a member’s lending privileges.
Q: What if my gerbil/alpaca/platypus/sharp-toothed-toddler eats part of the carrier? Or all of it?
A: That’d be a huge bummer.
If a carrier is damaged, we will inspect it and see what can be done to fix it. Sometimes a pull in a woven wrap is easily fixed with a careful eye and a wash. Other times, if the carrier is no longer safe or usable, we will invoice you for the cost of the carrier as laid out in our lending library agreement, and lending privileges may be revoked until the invoice is paid.
Q: What happens to the lending libraries when they aren’t at a meeting?
A: Our fabulous volunteers haul each bag of carriers into and out of our meetings, into their car and into their home. It’s up to each librarian what happens next – some carriers are loved by volunteers, other carriers wait patiently for the next meeting. Sometimes we joke about taking all the carriers out and diving into them a la Scrooge McDuck in his money vault (but that’s just a joke, we swear).
Q: How often are carriers washed?
A: Most carriers do not need to be washed in between uses as this can cause excessive, unnecessary wear, but we strive to keep our carriers clean and in good repair for all members. When carriers are checked in, we inspect them for wear, damage and make a decision if they need to be put into the wash pile to spruce them up before the next meeting.
Q: How did BWITC get so many carriers?
A: Our lending libraries are made up of donated carriers, from both personal donors and businesses. Some companies seek out BWI chapters to donate carriers, but we also seek out businesses that are willing to donate. Donations made to BWI Twin Cities are considered a charitable contribution as we are a non-profit organization. We also buy carriers, using a portion of the dues paid to our chapter as well as funds from fundraising. We look for discounted (on sale) carriers, good prices on pre-owned carriers in great condition and sometimes we get special pricing from businesses. We always love to hear suggestions on carriers you would like to see in the library!
Q: What happens to carriers that are no longer popular or carriers that don’t get checked out?
A: We try to keep our libraries updated and relevant, so we will occasionally sell carriers that have become outdated, are unavailable to the public or just aren’t used.
Q: Are there other things to check out from the lending library besides carriers?
A: Yes! Each of the four libraries also has accessories like infant inserts, suck pads (these go on the straps of a carrier to protect them from excess wear), waist extenders (sometimes waist straps just aren’t long enough), tummy comfort panels (that webbing can really dig in) and even sling rings for woven wrap carries.