Literary Tour: Four Metro Little Rock Library Branches With Amazing Children's Rooms
Diving into a book can be a true adventure…and so can the library visit. Even if you regularly show love to your local branch, there’s fun to be had when you trek across the city to explore a new space, take in a storytime or attend a special event (all of which are free; see Family Fun for library events). We checked out four libraries with great children’s rooms around the metro area; here’s what we found:
This massive children’s room occupies such a large space that it has its own outdoor entrance. As soon as you enter, you’ll notice the charming décor—a hodge-podge of art projects, plush animals and even a dollhouse that have accumulated through the years. Anchored atop one bookshelf is an impressive cardboard pirate ship named The Grand LeighAnne, once crafted for a summer program. Paintings commissioned from a local artist detail storybook tales like Jack and Jill. Inflatable toys and kites hang from the ceiling. It’s enough to whisk your child away to a magical fairyland before she even sticks her nose in one of the countless books. Bonus: It’s also the only children’s room we encountered with a live pet—you’ll see him swimming in the fish tank near the door. William F. Laman Public Library, 2801 Orange St., North Little Rock. For info: 758-1720.
Nestled on the third floor of the Central Arkansas Library System flagship, families will find the bright, sunshine-filled children’s room. From a long window seat lined with pillows and stuffed animals, children can look over the CALS complex—including the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, the new Ron Robinson Theatre and the Cox Creative Center—and the traffic buzzing along I-30. On a quiet day, it’s the perfect spot to settle in and read. Nearby, children can sit at low tables to play with Melissa & Doug games and puzzles. The children’s room also includes a separate space for storytimes and special events. Picture book lovers will have the real treat here: an entire room overlooking the River Market is devoted to a collection of beautifully illustrated books for little ones. CALS Main Library, 100 Rock St., LR. For info: 918-3000.
Next time you’re in the Bass Pro Shops area and need a break, venture over to this hidden gem. The statue out front is a nod to the Otter Creek area and was made by tBean Altelier (Maritza Cornejo Bean and Terry Bean). Spy “The Otter Family” sculpture through a glass door in the children’s room, and see what other aqueous features you can find in the vicinity (hint: check the otters etched into the glass doors to the room and the yellow ducks on the chairs and bookshelves). Visitors can hunker down in a cushy chair or log on to one of the computers just for kids. Relax and enjoy the tranquil area, accented with splashes of bright teal paint, groovy light fixtures and paintings made by a family member of Oley E. Rooker. CALS Oley E. Rooker Library, 11 Otter Creek Court, LR. For info: 907-5991.
It’s time to revisit this west Little Rock favorite—the branch was recently remodeled. It reopened in January sporting new carpet, expanded lighting, and expansions of the audio-visual and young adult areas. The children’s room was made over with new paint, color-block carpet and furniture. Nestle into one of the comfy seating pods or kid-sized tables and chairs to read to your kiddos. Or, let the kids roam on their own—a handy glass partition separates the main section of the library from the children’s room, so you can keep an eye on your little bookworms. CALS Adolphine Fletcher Terry Library, 2015 Napa Valley Dr., LR. For info: 228-0129.
Brand New Books
Families will have two new library children’s rooms to visit in 2014. Laman Library’s Argenta Branch moved from its fire station space on Main St. to a historic post office right down the block (420 Main St., NLR). The $2.8 million renovation on the building was completed earlier this year and the new downtown location opened in early April. Don’t miss the separate children’s department, auditorium for programs, and gallery and exhibit space.
Central Arkansas Library System will also debut a new children’s room this year; the Sidney S. McMath Library (2100 John Barrow Road, LR) will reopen in early June. The new space will house a larger children’s area that overlooks the koi pond outside, a new room dedicated to children’s programs and storytimes, new study rooms and expanded parking.