MinneMama Adventures welcomes back Kelly Sullivan Noah as a regular guest poster. In her fun series, “Go and Stop: The Library Series,” she breaks down the numerous kid-friendly libraries our city has to offer. I hope you continue to enjoy her insight!
We’re featuring two libraries today: A Place to Go (a destination-worthy library) and A Place to Stop (a smaller library to know if you’re in the area).
A Place to Go
ST. PAUL PUBLIC LIBRARY: GEORGE LATIMER CENTRAL
What is it?
Do your kids like old buildings? Then visit this mammoth 1917 jewel, right in that beckoning cluster of Rice Park, the Ordway, the Landmark Center, and the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Though the upcoming upgrades are needed, this library is just classic. The Youth Services wing is located on the first floor and completely separate from the rest of the library. Bronze statues of characters like Ramona Quimby welcome visitors through the archway and into two beautiful rooms that beckon in an old-school way. There are plenty of modern learning toys and activities, but in a setting that inspires classic creative play. The boys would love to get their hands on the antique puppets displayed next to the 1949 puppet stage, and I always swear we’ll return for a show. We also find neat books here that don’t catch our eye at other libraries.
After you’ve played and read to your heart’s content, wander through the rest of the building’s floors – climbing lots of stairs to wear out little legs – to visit the cool old rooms and beautiful architecture throughout. Peer out the windows towards the river or parts of the city. If it’s a weekday, see if the James J. Hill Center (an independent reference library) is open at the other end of the building. Quietly admire the classical architecture and stacked shelves while your little author soaks in the atmosphere for their next Harry Potter fanfic.
If the kids are still digging the “cool old building” adventure, walk across Rice Park past the big fountain to the Landmark Center to explore four tall stories of stairs and now-empty courthouse rooms, reading displays about the building’s history as a federal courthouse (hello, gangsters!) and post office. You may even catch a free music or dance performance in the courtyard.
Fit for what ages?
All of them.
How much are we talkin?
Already paid for by your tax dollars and donations, plus whatever you shell out for parking.
Want some tips?
If your kids drive your blood pressure through the roof on busy city streets and in parks without tight fences, bring reinforcements or wait until they’re older. Plan to wander the area if they happily strap into their stroller or stick close by, but pack snacks and drinks since there aren’t many convenient options.
There’s paid parking available all around. We’ve been pretty lucky in scoring a meter on the street right in front, but now we just park at the Science Museum (only $5 for members unless there’s a big event nearby) and say “Hello!” to the dinosaurs on our way there or back.
Check the calendar for their Saturday Live! programs where “families can enjoy a wide range of multicultural programming including puppetry, magic, live animals, storytelling, music and much more” on Saturday mornings.
Adults, keep this place in mind for your own adventures. The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library hosts many great series here, from outdoor movies or music (with beer!) and more. Visit this page for information.
A Place to Stop
EAST LAKE (MINNEAPOLIS) BRANCH
What is it?
When we’re running errands in the Longfellow or Phillips neighborhoods of Minneapolis, the East Lake Library is a nice place to stop. There’s a little parking lot right in the back and the building is small enough that it’s easy and quick.
Come on in, freshen up, and let the kids play a bit while you sit on a bench and figure out the rest of your day. It’s one of those newer open-room buildings, but the kids’ corner doesn’t carry noise to the rest of the library. Though if I were queen of the world, I’d put a bit more lighting right there so it’s not too dim compared to the windows.
Fit for what ages?
Gears toward the preschool crowd.
How much are we talkin’?
Already paid for by your tax dollars and donations.
Want some tips?
The Midtown Global Market is just a mile down the road and a neat place for lunch and exploration. Abbott Northwestern Hospital and the other medical buildings are also about a five-minute drive away, making this a great “waiting room” or change of scenery if you have someone over there.
Thank you to our guest poster, Kelly!
Kelly Sullivan Noah lives in Maple Grove with her husband Sam and their two sons Adam (4) and Thomas (2). They have full-time jobs as a financial advisor and credit manager and are jumping into the world of homeschooling.
She is a frequent visitor of Twin Cities libraries and nature centers, finding them to be an inexpensive way to explore different neighborhoods and play with toys they don’t have at home!