The Playbrary letting loose in Grays Ferry

Loose parts play is among the boons of paying a visit to the awe-inspiring space.

Walking into The Playbrary, you’ll quickly find that the spot is “the place of ‘yes.’” This assertion from Advocacy Program Manager Tiffany Durkson has been helping the Grays Ferry haven, 1313 S. 33rd St., to thrive since its October opening. It has also broadened the positive reputation that loose parts play enjoys.

As the handiwork of Studio Ludo, a 501(c)3 organization whose name derives from the Latin for “I play,” the Playbrary will delight fans of traditional toys and games, but Durkson and her peers hold that buttons, cardboard, crates, fabric, rocks, and ropes can dovetail with those goodies to create even more memorable diversions.

“There is nothing wrong with playing with cars, for example, although, obviously, if you give kids cars, they’ll use them as cars, but here, they build cars with what they find,” she said. “A greater sense of pride comes from using their imaginations in that way.” 

The Playbrary has added close to 400 members to its ranks since April via free membership. Their efforts serves as a counterbalance to the sway technology holds over many childrens’ lives. Organizers feel that letting youngsters’ minds ponder various scenarios is better than seeking a record-breaking score or internet clout. 

Donations welcome—and encouraged!

Durkson said donations constitute 85 percent of the Playbrary’s offerings. Supporters have donated close to 4,000 pounds of items over the last nine months.

Donations are accepted during operating hours. Prospective donors are encouraged to send a photo of potential donations to for approval, or call 215.454.6780 to clarify what is accepted.

Play in action at the Playbrary.
Ages, hours & special events

The destination will captivate anyone “from ages 0 to 99,” said Durkson. When asked about the possibility of a 100-year-old visting Durkson laughed and replied that she would love to welcome someone that old.

Unstructured frivolity is welcome from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

On the second Saturday of each month the Playbrary hosts special events to encourage community.

The August 13, 2022 Second Saturday will include an appearance by educational video star Blippi and water play. Check out the details on Facebook.

Children interact with an old classic—the Fisher Price record player.
Yes, they lend out—and let you keep—some items

The Playbrary lets guests keep items marked with black dots and lends out for 30 days those bearing pink dots. 

“Overall, we want this to be a free, safe place for families,” Durkson said, noting the favor that a giant Slinky has gained among everyone. “There’s so much to discover in life, period, so we see ourselves as vital in playing a part in that extended quest.”

As the year advances and 2023 beckons, she expects for curious kids and enthused adults to continue to flock to the Playbrary and foresees hosting multiple field trips and hopes to hold First Friday meetups for adults. With members hailing from 20 states and Australia and Canada, Durkson is giddy about having non-Philadelphians make their inaugural visit. Once inside the Playbrary, everyone is like a friendly neighbor just trying to have fun. 

“Playtime here, especially if it involves loose parts, is whatever you want it to be,” she said. “Come reconnect with something, or be daring and make a new adventure.”