“Parker, it’s library time.”
With arms raised high, my boy gave a “Yesss!” because he knew exactly what that meant: We were headed to Libbie Mill. Rather than spend hours trying to entertain my first grader, I gleefully set our sights on our not so old standby, Libbie Mill Library.
If curling up with a good book in a cool setting is your idea of a good time on a leisurely afternoon, this place is your jam. The Libbie Mill Library, part of the Henrico Public Library system, is a glistening gem in a momma nerd’s cache of exciting places to visit.
The library opened in November 2015 and is situated in the most unlikely of places–a development off Broad Street in the Libbie Place section of town called Libbie Mill Midtown. The library outshines its surroundings. I’ll get to the awesomeness inside the library in just a second. But first, I want to first give you a picture of what’s on the outside.
This is not your neighborhood library.
In fact, it pretty much dwarfs it. Driving into the parking lot, the building is a monolith of architecture that looks not unlike a modern museum or the engineering building of a university. This may seem slightly daunting at first, but I promise you, there are treasures inside. But I’ll get to the inside…in just a second.
Let’s talk about what’s behind the library.
Porch swings, y’all! If you love a good porch swing like we do, imagine a row of them overlooking a man-made pond with a fountain springing up from its center. Hanging flower baskets sway ever so slightly from lampposts. They dot the terrace, dispersed between well-appointed shrubbery and benches made to look like smoothed rock formations. Tranquility abounds! Well, that is if you happen to visit when they’re not hauling dirt or banging on roofs in the vicinity.
Now, to the inside.
Just inside the sliding front doors, you’ll notice a book return kiosk built into the wall. One of the coolest features is the automation of book borrowing and returns.
To return the books, you use the touchscreen to activate the system. You simply slide the books one by one into a slot that scans the book before it disappears into the wall. I mention this feature because the kids LOVE it. Ok, maybe not just the kids.
Upon passing the interactive exhibition screens in the lobby, you have a choice: venture upstairs to the second floor or veer off to the right. Mommies of the younger set want to head right, while pre-teenagers on up will likely find the second floor better suited to them.
The children’s room has just the right mixture of stimulation and order for my taste.
It features two rows of large screen computers, a handful of colorful tablets, comfy mod chairs and couches, a couple of cubicles for reading or creative play, and an activity room (for movie screenings, story time activities, and the like). Padded window nooks offer a place to stretch out and read. And, of course, there are rows and rows of books, magazines, DVDs, and CDs.
There is almost always a scavenger hunt to be completed within the room, the details of which you can retrieve from the very helpful librarians near the entrance of the room.
Parker immediately picked out his books of choice, and we headed over to one of the square window nooks. After reading for a little while, he headed over to the computers to log on to his favorite game. This gave mommy a chance to relax nearby and set to work.
We coexisted, happily occupied, for a good half an hour before I suggested the scavenger hunt activity to him. This time, it’s Pokemon! He had to catch ‘em all, of course, so he set out with gusto to discover where the virtual creatures (in this case, pictures cut and taped around the room) were hidden amongst the stacks.
Had my pre-teen joined us, she would have headed immediately up the stairs to the teen room.
Tucked into the corner of the second floor behind study pods and the digital media lab, the teen room has its own appeal. It invites youngsters to chill, undisturbed by the parentals amongst the Young Adult (YA) literature.
I’d describe the adult section, but I’ve honestly never set foot in there. It looks really nice, though. #Goals.
If you’re looking for more engaging activities, they are offered year round. Storytelling, themed family activity days, an author series, workshops, classes, and the like.
On my first visit, I had the privilege of attending a panel discussion by a cohort of women mystery writers. I’ve yet to take the kids to a family activity, but l am looking forward to it!
Libbie Mill Library
2100 Libbie Lake East St.
Henrico, VA 23230