Oxford Sling Library (previously Oxfordshire Sling Meet) was launched in February 2008 by Guinevere Webster and Peggy Cheyo who met up in Rose Hills Children’s Centre and realised that they both shared similar dreams of bringing slings to a wider audience as well as setting up a sling library within their meets. With help from many sling manufacturers and babywearing parents in the area, Oxford Sling Meet was born and has continued in popularity to the events you know of today.
In January 2014, I learned that Oxford Sling Meet was looking for a new home and change of ownership. I had recently completed my Slingababy training with Rose McAfee (Twin Sling group on Facebook), Karol Klinksey and Aloma Chandram (The Green Bean consultancy and Sling Library in Wantage), Chloe Chiles (Embracing the Tree, Chesham), Lauren Gordon (Witney Sling Meet) and Hannah Venn (Simply Carry).
Rose and I jointly took over running the Library from a beautiful venue in Iffley called The Rotunda.
We decided to separate Oxford Sling Meet from Oxford Sling Library to create options for purely the social side of meeting others and to develop the sling library to be the place for hiring slings or seeking advice about ones own carrier.
After 7 fantastic months of sling meets and sling libraries in The Rotunda, Rose and her family moved to Dartmoor and in September 2014, I set about finding a new venue for the sling library. Much venue searching ensued and eventually I chose St Albans Hall in East Oxford, for its light and sunny space, facilities, free parking in surrounding streets and lovely chalet (symmetrical wooden ceiling) atmosphere. St Albans Hall already hosts many baby classes so it was a great find.
In September 2014, Emily Edwards (Wear Them With Love) moved from from Shropshire to Oxfordshire. Emily had been a central figure in the Shropshire Sling Library and babywearing community and soon became central to Oxford(shires) babywearing community too.
Emily and Josie joined forces hosting the sling library and workshops at St Albans Hall and various lovely volunteers gravitated towards the sling library to create the wonderful team of volunteers we have today. Emily led many workshops on topics including Introduction to Slings and also specialist topics including Ring Sling Masterclass and How to get baby on your back in a soft structured carrier.
Emily left Oxford Sling Library in November 2015, initially train as a midwife however those plans are presently on hold and she has just returned to work full time.
I am so grateful to all the volunteers past and present: Tegan, Dee, Mariska, Ale, Rachel, Sarah, Jacki, Sarah, Roz, Jess, Chloe, Bekki, Antonella, Shin, Laura, Beth and Naomi and all of you with the intention of helping in future. it takes a team to set up the room, unpack all the slings, set out all the goodies in the kitchen, take time to learn the ropes of MyTurn on the computers: checking in and out our slings and then helping us with the mammoth task of packing up again after a busy sling library session.
Many of our volunteers have trained as Babywearing Peer Supporters (Born to Carry), which enables them to learn how to apply safety recommendations in a sling library environment, understand how slings are fitted for different age groups and be able to offer practical experience with different types of slings/carriers. Others have felt that full consultancy training was what they wanted and last year both Jacki and Jess qualified as Slingababy Carrying Consultants.
Oxford Sling Library is run entirely by volunteers who do this as a labour of love. We all carry our children with a variety of different slings at different ages and stages and are therefore all very passionate about enabling others to engage with their babies on such a personal level. Babywearing often transforms lives, helps with colicky babies, separation anxieties, helps parents and carers get on with life or daily tasks while looking after other children and helps to form a very close bond that really is part of the essential foundations to contented families.