Raise your hand if you oohed and aahed over the Downtown Seattle Public Library shortly after it opened, but have rarely been back since. Yeah, us too. It’s not that we don’t love it (we do!) It’s just that most of us have a closer branch that suits our needs just fine, and with the library’s fantastic hold system, you can get anything you want sent to your local branch. That’s all well and good, but it’s worth making the trip to the mother ship every once and a while. Here are six reasons why:
1. It is HUGE. Your local branch is where you go to pick up materials that you already know you want, but the downtown library is a place to discover books. The children’s section has entire shelves devoted just to fairy tales, graphic novels, holidays, foreign languages…you name it.
2. It’s architecturally significant. Love it or hate it, it’s one of the more interesting and unusual buildings in our city. Designed by Rem Koolhaas, the building received a 2005 National AIA Honor Award for Architecture. Kids will spot it immediately, as it definitely stands out among the more typical downtown buildings.
3. They have a large selection of Toddler and Preschool Theme Kits. Each kit contains five picture books, a music CD, a resource book, and an activity card, all based around a theme (dinosaurs, sharing, sleepy time…). You can reserve these kits for pickup at your local branch too, but it’s a lot more fun to browse them all at once. And like all library materials, they can be returned to any branch once you’re done with them.
4. Exploring the building is an adventure in itself, with the neon green escalators and glossy red hallways. Head to the top (where you can take in the view and peer down the glass elevator shafts), then wind your way down the “book spiral” – four floors of book stacks, all connected by ramps.
5. Check the calendar and plan your trip during one of the many story times. With baby, toddler, preschool, and Spanish story times, there is something for everyone.
6 A Chocolati coffee shop in the building! Need we say more?
We recommend taking the bus, since parking downtown can be pricey. The majority of Metro bus routes go through Downtown Seattle, so chances are there is a direct bus straight from your ‘hood. If you prefer to drive, the library has underground parking (entrance on Spring Street between 4th and 5th Avenues), with convenient 20-minute pricing increments for the first hour.
Central Public Library
1000 4th Avenue
Seattle, Wa 98104
Monday – Thursday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
When was the last time you visited the Central Library? What is your favorite part of the library? Let us know in a comment below.
— Heidi Unruh