When was the last time your family visited one of your local public libraries? Whether you’re looking to check out a new book, access the Internet, have a quiet place to read, or even rent movies, your local public library is there to assist—and free of charge. Just as every book is one of a kind, so are the public libraries that house our favorite stories, so take a look at the five best public libraries in the United States and the unique attributes and services they have to offer.
The Maguire Gardens at the Los Angeles Central Library are reason enough to frequent this stunning center for learning. The public library’s architecture, including the rotunda pictured at right, add to its beauty and individuality. The stylized design of Art Deco, a style popular from the mid 1920s through the 1930s, dominates the library’s west facade. Just take a look at their library map and you’ll be impressed by their literary offerings as well as their computer classes, one of the largest selections of world language resources, and the exhibition space featuring sculptures and canvases.
An outing to Kansas City’s Central Library is perfect for checking out a new book and reveling at the “Community Bookshelf,” an amazing facade comprised of 25-feet-tall book spines that run along the parking garage’s south wall. The shelf showcases 22 titles that were suggested by Kansas City readers and then selected by The Kansas City Public Library Board of Trustees. The library also features quiet work rooms, free Internet access, and the Missouri Valley Room, which provides space and resources for historians and genealogists. Take the kids to the second floor and let them browse the expansive children’s collection, read aloud in small groups or to themselves, and look at picture books. Be sure to take advantage of the rotating events and activities, many of which are geared toward kids and families.
Wireless Internet, after-school homework help, financial advice, Photoshop classes, movie screenings, book clubs, concerts, and workshops are only a few of the FREE programs offered by the New York Public Library. Check out the NY Public Library’s podcast, visit the children’s center on 42nd street for films, story hours, and guest appearances by authors and illustrators, or enjoy pop-up displays such as It’s Me Singing, Gone But Here: The Poetry of Philip Levine. It’s pretty much a waste of money not to frequent New York’s public libraries.
A bookworm’s dream waterfall? Check. Literary recommendations? Check. A space just for teens that features contests, events, and a collection of teen-submitted artwork? Check. Cincinnati’s public library caters to creative people and their MakerSpace encourages people to gather, create, invent, and learn. Audio/visual equipment, 3D printers, laser cutters and engravers, sewing machines, cameras and other hardware and software tools are available for free (though some machines require additional materials which may be purchased for a fee).
While entrance into the Library of Congress is free, be prepared to pass through strict security and leave your food behind. The largest library in the world, both in terms of shelf space and number of books, the Library of Congress has no shortage of offerings. Activities for kids and families include free walking tours, story time, and exhibitions, and visitors of all ages can enjoy movie screenings, panel discussions, concerts, and other events. If you and your family plan to take advantage of the many free activities in Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress’ beautiful outdoor areas are sure to encourage summer learning.
Do you have a favorite library that you frequent? Whether it’s for studying or pleasure (or if it helps studying be pleasurable), we want to hear about it! Comment below, sharing about your favorite public libraries.