I had never visited the Chevy Chase Library prior to last weekend. But the branch is just a block from the store where we buy Frances’ shoes and we had some time to kill after we got our shopping done, so it seemed the perfect time to check it out.
This building opened in 1968, and resembles nothing so much as a 1970s bank branch. It was not the first library in Chevy Chase though – the neighborhood has had a library since 1920, in rented or shared space, but this was the neighborhood’s first dedicated library building. DCPL has been renovating and building lots of new library buildings in the past few years, and this should probably go on the list for the next round. It’s dated inside as well as out.
That said, the library is quite large for a neighborhood library. It was getting great use early on a Saturday morning. Definitely an important part of the neighborhood. It was the most well-staffed of any branch library I’ve been to – I counted 7 staff members working and I’m not sure I caught everyone!
The library is two stories, and we spent most of our time on the second floor where the children’s collection is located. The library has great Eric Carle rugs which I loved – and a felt “board” (really a felt-covered angled table) to play with, which I haven’t seen at any other libraries so far. The focus is definitely on more traditional library services, not as many puzzles, art supplies, or games as you find at other branches.
Downstairs you find the adult collections, periodicals, and the circulation desk. I thought the library had some really neat themed book displays up, which was nice. So often it’s just new books. Frances and I checked out The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, one of my childhood favorites.
One of my life list goals is to visit every library in the DCPL system. There are 26 libraries total, and I’ve been to 7 so far. You can read the other posts here.
We are lucky enough to live equidistant between two neighborhood libraries – Lamond-Riggs and Petworth. Both are just over a mile from our house, the perfect distance to walk on a nice day. The library originally opened in 1939, and had a full, gorgeous renovation in 2011. It’s a big branch – three stories tall with separate spaces for young children, elementary aged kids, teens, and adults. There is a huge community room in the basement and a good sized Story Time room on the second floor.
Petworth has recently begun doing a story time at 10:30 on Saturday mornings, which is perfect for working parents! We’ve been several times and it’s always great fun. Petworth also has my favorite toddler “stacks”. The books are all in low-level bins, which makes it so easy for an adult to browse for books to pick up, while also keeping an eye on a kid. (It is definitely easier to find a “known” book in traditional stacks, but I never realized, until I had my own mobile kid, how incompatible those are with supervising a young child). There are always crayons and scratch paper on one of the tables, to encourage coloring.
In “other things that Carrie loves”, Petworth also has several fireplaces, and the most amazing floors. There are great cork floors in the reading rooms and a terrazzo mosaic map of the neighborhood in the entry.
On our recent visit, Frances and I enjoyed a story time (focused on African-American soldiers in the Civil War. Definitely the first book my kid has heard where someone got shot!) with a “Make Your Own American Flag” craft. Frances was SO proud of her flag!
We picked up 3 books to read together: Round Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, What can you do with a paleta? by Carmen Tafolla, and Harriet, you’ll drive me wild by Mem Fox.
One of my life list goals is to visit every library in the DCPL system. There are 26 libraries total, and I’ve been to 6 so far. You can read the other posts here.
I love public libraries. This may not seem surprising, as I am a librarian (although not a public librarian), but really, I love public libraries as a (heavy) user. They have been a happy place since I was a kid. I volunteered at the public library in middle and high school. I briefly worked at DCPL as a Sunday librarian, but mostly I use them: as a source of great reading material, music and movies. As a warm and friendly place to hang out, and NOW… as a wonderful! free! place to entertain my kid.
Last weekend, I checked out the Takoma Park Branch of DCPL. It was my first time there (even though it is pretty close to my house), and I think the word to describe it is charming. It was built in 1911 and was the first neighborhood library in the DCPL system (which was created in 1896). As the original “Central” library is no longer a library, this is now the oldest library building (and one of 4 “Carnegie” libraries) in the system. You can read more about the history of this branch on DCPL’s website, if you are curious.
The children’s picture book collection surrounds a fireplace, which just makes me so happy. A fireplace! There is a small room to the left of the children’s collection, which has the board books, some puzzles, some puppets, and the magical kid’s computer, which Frances adores and which is her first stop in every library that we go to. Plenty to entertain a toddler on a cold Sunday afternoon.
We managed to return a TON of library books (our house was in danger of being overrun!) and only check out one: What elephant? by Geneviève Coté, a sweet picture book about George and the elephant who appears in his living room one day. The book was as charming as the library!
One of my life list goals is to visit every library in the DCPL system. There are 26 libraries total, and this is the 5th one I’ve posted about. You can read the other posts here.
This is Lamond-Riggs, which is our neighborhood library. It’s a small branch, but has a good, current collection. They usually have the bestsellers, things folks are interested in reading right now. The librarian is a master-weeder, so if you want older titles, early books in a series, etc, this is not the place for you – that said I always find a book I’ve been wanting to pick up when I walk in. I’ve never left empty-handed.
To the left side of the above picture is the children’s area, which I guess we will be exploring more in the next year or two. To the right side, Jami checks out the new books. On this visit, I check out Pregnancy Day by Day, edited by Maggie Block.
The West End Branch of the DC Public Library has a special place in my heart, because I worked here briefly as a Sunday librarian. It was my chance to try out the public library world, and I enjoyed it – but in the end working 6 days a week was too much for me, so I returned to being *just* a law librarian.
The library is located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of DC, and has a small, but lovely collection. It gets a lot of use, which was surprising to me when I started there, because I always thought of Foggy Bottom as being inhabited mainly by GW students.
One thing I always thought West End did very well was their book displays. I always found something new I wanted to read every time I came – and this weeks trip was no exception. I checked out: I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman and a travel guide to weekend trips in the DC area.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library is the DCPL branch I visit most often. It is just a few blocks from my work, and I’m there about once a week. MLK is DC’s “central library” with a larger building and collection than the neighborhood libraries and reference librarians who are subject specialists. It’s also kind of ugly.
Okay, that’s probably unfair. The building is historic, designed by Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1972. If Wikipedia is to be believed, it’s the only library he ever designed, which is pretty cool right there. There is a great, big mural in the lobby depicting the library’s namesake.
The collection is good though, and there have been some interior renovations that make the space a little friendlier (like the Children’s Room on the second floor that was redone a few years ago). There is also an awesome new Teen Space, but I didn’t get a good picture.
I spend most of my time in the “Popular Library” however – home to the Fiction collection, DVDs, and the holds shelf. I put lots of books on hold, and then all I have to do is swing by and pick them.
Today’s pick-up? Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethaa.
There are 25 libraries in the DCPL system, and I’m hoping to make it to all of them. Although I’ve been to an handful already, Watha T. Daniel, Shaw’s library that just reopened in a brand new building is the first I photographed. I think it’s really beautiful and was getting a lot of use when I went by on a Tuesday afternoon.
The ground floor had the children’s section, along with new books, large print, and DVDs.
The second floor had the adult and teen books, both fiction and nonfiction, along with study rooms and lots of tables and chairs which were getting a lot of use as folks took advantage of the free wi-fi.
I enjoyed browsing, and ended up checking out two books: The United States of Arugula by David Kamp, which I am already enjoying and Easy hikes close to home, Washington, D.C. by Paul Elliott, which I’m hoping will give us some ideas for good weekend hikes.
1 down, 24 to go.