DCPL Love: Chevy Chase Library

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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DCPL Love: Chevy Chase Library

DCPL Love: Petworth Neighborhood Library

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

DCPL Love: Petworth Neighborhood Library

DCPL Love: Takoma Park Neighborhood Library

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.

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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.

DCPL Love: Takoma Park Neighborhood Library

Life List #53: Visit the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

I have been meaning to visit these gardens for YEARS, and finally got my butt in gear this morning. I saw a blog post yesterday about a volunteer day at the gardens today. The volunteer day didn’t really work for us (it’s hard to volunteer WITH a 16 month old), but it reminded me that I had been meaning to check it out, so when Frankie woke up the morning, I checked the weather – it looked like the rain was going to hold off until about 11 – and the park opens at 7 am (perfect for toddlers/babies who wake early!), so after she had some breakfast we headed off for our exploring adventure.

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It was much quicker to get to from our house than I expected – only about 20 minutes, definitely an easy early morning activity.

The first thing we saw when we walked into the park, were Canadian Geese – who had recently had babies. So adorable! We tried to get close enough to get a peak, while staying far enough away to keep the moms from getting nervous. Frances loved seeing the “ducks” (as she calls all birds).

baby geese!

Canadian Geese & their babies

The gardens were started after the Civil War as a commercial operation growing and selling water lilies, and became a part of the National Park Service in 1938.

cultivating water lilies since 1913

When we first walked in I could see all the ponds with the lily pads, but no blooming lilies, which disappointed me. The park’s website says that mornings are the best time to see the flowers, but I thought that maybe it wasn’t the right time of year or something. Turns out I was just a little too early. Over the course of the next hour, I got to watch as buds appeared and slowly opened. Pretty magical. I’m really glad that I got to see that!

buds coming up

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Water Lily!

The Park consists of three areas. The aquatic gardens, which are the ponds created after the Civil War to grow the water lilies, a Marsh Boardwalk, that goes through marshland (some of which was restored by the Park Service in the 1990s), and a River Trail (which is mostly wooded, but ends at the Anacostia River.

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We could see that it was low tide as we walked along the boardwalk, which means there was a slightly marshy smell that always reminds me of home. This is the only part of the park that is “paved” in any sense. The paths through the aquatic gardens are packed dirt and the River Trail is pretty grassy. All were easy enough to do with our stroller, but if yours isn’t a good “off roader” or if you have a smaller baby who is easier to carry, you are better off using a carrier of some kind. The paths/trails themselves are easy walking. No hard hiking here.

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The River Trail at 0.7 miles (one way) is the longest of the three, which didn’t seem to bad when I read it, but because it was the roughest with the stroller, by the time we got down to the end and saw the Anacostia, I was starting to feel a little grumbly.

On the Anacostia River

Then on our way back, we saw a big turtle (Frances was not impressed, but I was pretty thrilled) and two young white-tailed deer (too quick for my camera), and I decided that the trail was definitely worthwhile after all!

Turtle!

In the entire time we spent at the park, I only saw 6 other people – 2 birders when we first arrived, 2 runners heading down the trails, and 2 park rangers on our way out. Definitely a hidden gem! I’m so glad I finally checked it out, and now I’m curious about the other National Parks in the area. We’ll have to have some more weekend morning adventures!

Life List #53: Visit the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.