Libraries rock. They are beautiful, filled with things to do (books!  story time!  play spaces!) and are indoors, which is key in LA with these recurring heatwaves. So, clearly your local library is a regular stop.  But if you need a change of scene and a destination date, head downtown to visit one of the most amazing libraries in the country.  Brimming with history, a great Children’s Room, activities and events − if you haven’t been, you’re due for a visit.

Central_Library_Los_Angeles

photo credit: Sheila Thomson via Creative Commons

The Los Angeles Central Library was first established in 1872. Yes, back when Los Angeles was the little pueblo that could, it already had a library. It’s gone through a lot of growth and change, most recently in 2001 the library was renamed the Richard Riodan Central Library and had a few nips and tucks (because we are in LA). With 538,000 square feet and 8 floors, it houses more than six million items and happens to be one of the largest publicly funded library in the world. So next time anyone tells you LA is full of surfers and surface, you tell them about our library!

Library Name Plaque Los Angeles
photo credit: Erica Groten

The library offers many WOW factors, so make “Look up!” your mantra throughout your visit. Besides the gazillion mosaic pieces located in the grand hall outside Children’s Literature, mouths will drop when viewing the globe light fixture.

Globe Light at Central Library Los Angeles

photo credit: Erica Groten

But, probably, you want to head straight to the kids books.

Entrance to Children Section Los Angeles Central Library
photo credit: Erica Groten

Kiddos and parents alike will have a tough time deciding what to look at first. There are so many choices, it’s like a Willy Wonka Factory of books. When your little reader finds a book that catches their fancy, they can sit down on one of the many seating choices.

Rest and read Los Angeles Public Libraryphoto credit: LWYang via Creative Commons

If you’ve got an ants-in-their pants toddler who isn’t ready to settle with a book, don’t fret.  Ample play objects abound, like this kitchen set sitting in a sunny corner. Play hide and seek to see what you can find.

Central Library Los Angelesphoto credit: Erica Groten

And when playtime gets old, you can plop the kiddos onto seats at story telling.  Every Saturday there’s a story time with stories, songs, and more for ages 2-5. Check the link for times and additional information on Preschool Storytime. Too young? The library also offers stories, songs, and rhymes for the wee ones, ages 0-2. Check the link for days and times to Baby Story & Playtime.

 Story Time Los Angeles Public Libraryphoto credit: Erica Groten 

When you’re ready to get back up and moving, it’s time to take in the sights.  Take a walk around the library and have the kiddos point out all the art installations that are located everywhere. Look up, look down, look all around.  You never know what you’ll find, or where you’ll find it.

Flower Light Los Angeles Public Library
What To Know Before You Go
Hours: Mondays through Thursday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday & Saturday from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sunday from 1 p.m.-5 p.m., closed holidays.

Eating: Maguire Gardens, centrally located and facing Flower St, offers outdoor-seating, a grass area for picnicking and fascinating fountains to check out. Want to eat inside? Visit BookEnds Cafe on the lower level. It offers breakfast, lunch fare, and frozen yogurt. There are lots of tables that are roomy and nicely spaced.

Parking: Even though public parking is not available at the library, there are plenty of lots around downtown and metered parking on the street. The library has even negotiated a special rate at the 524 South Flower Street Garage, validation rates are available only when the library is open to the public. Get your validation from the library information desk on the first floor. Present a valid library card to receive the discount.

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Potties: Potties abound throughout the library and many offer diaper changing stations.

The Richard Riordan Central Library
630 West 5th St.
Downtown Los Angeles
Phone: 323-292-4328
Online: lapl.org

-Erica Groten

What did we miss? A favorite spot to hang out, favorite section, or favorite librarian? Let us know, we love to hear from you!