I’m rather surprised that I have lived in the Hartford area for over seven years and never visited the Hartford Public Library’s Downtown Branch. The downtown branch is located right on Main Street, just down from the Wadsworth Atheneum and City Hall. It is a beautiful building that underwent a $42 million dollar renovation that was completed in 2007. I had heard from a fellow mom that they have a wonderful children’s section and a fairly new early literacy librarian who was offering a variety of new children’s programs. Of course I had to check it out.
Now, parking can always be the tricky thing when going anywhere downtown, but there are a few good options for the library.
If you don’t feel like driving or looking for parking, you can always take the bus (like we did last summer)! Drop off is right out front.
There are a lot of steps out front, but a ramp is available if you are traveling with a baby stroller.
And there are a variety of door options to enter the building.
If you are driving, there are a few parking options. Street parking is available throughout the downtown area and is FREE on the weekends. There is also a parking deck connected to the library with a limited number of spaces. The spaces are numbered and if you are able to snag a space numbered 1-10, parking is FREE. Otherwise, parking costs $1/hour and you can pay by cash or credit card.
The parking deck is located off of Arch Street (but note that this is a one way street so you may have to loop around).
If you park in the library’s deck or off of Arch Street, there is a back entrance that you can use.
Once inside here, there are stairs or an elevator that will take you to the main floor.
Then, from the main floor, there are more stairs or an elevator that will take you up to the children’s library on the third floor.
The library is beautiful inside. Look at the view we saw when exiting the elevator on the third floor. Not only does this floor hold the children’s library but it also is the location of an art installation called, ArtWalk.
A delicious aroma also greeted us on this floor (and throughout the library). The yummy smell was thanks to the cafe and bakery located on the main floor but visible from above. The cafe is called The Kitchen Cafe and it is a collaboration between the Hartford Public Library and Billings Forge Community Works to offer a farm-to-table training cafe. The Kitchen is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. (Hopefully I will have more details in a future post).
So the floor is filled with beautiful art, delicious smells, and a wonderful space for children. Take a look.
When we exited the elevator, we saw the entrance to the children’s library on our left.
The space was bright, airy and surrounded by beautiful views of downtown Hartford. There were books (of course), computers and plenty of seating areas in this section. But on the other side of the large book shelves was a smaller area perfect for the younger crowd.
It reminded me of a Montessori classroom with natural wood furniture and a variety of play areas surrounded by books (that the kids could easily access).
Right at the front of the play area, was a spot for some of the programs held at the children’s library. We were lucky enough to stumble onto one such program the day we visited (Wednesday morning). It was a drop-in story time for infants and toddlers that started at 10:30 am (Check out the library’s full program listing, including a Saturday morning program, here.)
After story time, the Early Literacy Librarian leading the program encouraged the group to let the children play in the rest of the play area. She even got out play-doh for the kids to enjoy and she spent time speaking to the parents in attendance about the other programs offered at the library.
The librarian running the program was also sweet enough to let me ask her a few of our lovely OAAM questions. She showed me where the restrooms with baby changing stations were located (in the back, behind the circulation desk), she provided me with a list of their current programs (all drop-in programs with a new schedule released on a monthly basis) and she let me know that strollers are allowed in the library area.
I still can’t believe it has taken me this long to bring my little ones to the Hartford Public Library, but I’m so glad that I finally did. The library is beautiful, the children’s area is easily manageable with my three kids, and the program we participated in was engaging and fun. I’m really looking forward to our next visit (especially if we are able to add in a stop at The Kitchen Cafe!)
Phone Number: (860)695-6300
Follow them on Facebook!
Monday – Thursday, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Friday & Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday (November – April) 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
- Stroller Friendly: YES. Elevators are available throughout the building and you can park your stroller anywhere in the children’s library.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: I’m waiting to hear back from the library on this one. I will update you soon!
- Baby Changing Station: YES. There are restrooms located in the Children’s Library, behind the circulation desk. Both the boys and girls restrooms have a baby changing station.
- Parking: Metered street parking is available around the library. Street parking is FREE on the weekends and the meters accept cash or credit cards for weekday payments. There is also a convenient parking deck located behind the library. The spaces in the deck are numbered and spaces 1-10 are FREE. All other spaces in the deck will require meter payment at a rate of $1 per hour. These meters also accept cash and credit cards.
- Food for Sale: YES. The Kitchen Cafe is located on the main floor of the library and serves breakfast and lunch from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
- Outside Food Allowed: I’m waiting to hear back from the library on this one too. I will update you soon!
- Cash Required: NO. The library is FREE and if payment is required for parking, credit cards are accepted.
- Dress Code: No special clothing required.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES. The library is open on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and open on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, November through April. The children’s library also offered a Saturday morning story time in February. We will have to check the March schedule to see if that program continues.
Tips & Things to Bring:
- The children’s library is located on the third floor.
- Currently, all children’s programs are drop-in classes. This is great if you are looking for something to do at the last minute!
- The Hartford Public Library is part of the Connecticut library system. This means that if you have a library card at any library in the state, you can check out books at the Hartford Public Library. This also may mean that the books you check out at the Hartford Public Library may be able to be returned at your local library (very convenient). Check with the library for more information.
- A variety of children’s programs are offered at the Hartford Public Library and the schedule is released on a monthly basis. You can find the details for the February 2014 schedule here, but the most current schedule can be found by going to the library’s website and then look under, “Programs & Exhibits” and “Youth Program Flyer”.
Meet Our Sponsors!
- 4D Vision Gym – A vision training center located in Cromwell, CT where Dr. Juanita Collier, MS, OD and her staff show members how to utilize Vision Therapy to correct visual issues and make learning and playing easier and more fun.
- The Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School – Offers children ages three to twelve years old a free, public Montessori education implemented to the highest standards set by Association Montessori Internationale.
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT this private pre-school, elementary and middle school, serves families from over 20 communities.
- Kathryn Deane Photography – A natural light photographer located in West Hartford, CT and specializing in maternity, newborn, child, family, and senior portrait photography.
- Montessori Magnet School – A NEW tuition-free magnet school located in Hartford, CT that follows Association Montessori Internationale guidelines.
Are you interested in becoming an Out and About Mom sponsor? Click here for more info.
Want to keep up with all our Out and About Mom adventures?
Check back every Tuesday and Thursday as we dish up more Momsense for getting out and about with your little ones. Don’t have time to check back in? Let us send you an automatic notification of new posts straight to your email inbox by signing up here. Also, you can like us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest posts and get some extra tidbits we share only through those sites.