Oh my goodness…is it just me or is anyone else hankering for spring after that 60+ degree day on Tuesday? It’s not often I count on having outdoor play time in February (at least comfortable outdoor play time, sans snowsuits), so it was a treat to get out, warm up our bones, and get some fresh air!
But with just under a month until the first official day of spring, it’s highly likely we’ll all need some dry and toasty indoor places to bring the kiddos while we ride out the gray and chilly end of winter. Enter The Beatty Family’s most recent Out and About adventure…
I am a BIG fan of libraries. They’re free, there’s always things to keep kids entertained, they’re free, they nurture a love of reading in small children, they’re free, and they generally promote a feeling of calm and tranquility. You just have to love a place that is both kid-friendly and universally understood to be a quiet space. I’m fairly certain libraries are the only places that successfully achieve that kind of dynamic. And did I mention all of this wonderfulness is entirely free?
So when Bring Your Child to the Library Day rolled around February 3, you can bet we were only too happy to participate. And what better way to observe such a day than to check out an entirely new-to-us library? So off we went to East Hartford Public Library’s Raymond Library branch.
I feel it’s important to note here that this is Raymond Library, located at 840 Main Street in East Hartford, and not Wickham Library, which is located at 656 Burnside Ave and is temporarily closed for renovations. A couple years back Raymond Library also underwent some significant renovations and we were very excited to explore.
Also worth noting, Raymond Library’s address is on Main Street, but the entrance to the parking lot located behind the building is on Central Ave.
There is a handicap accessible entrance at the rear of the building (under the green awning pictured above), but the front entrance does have a ramp as well.
Getting to the Children’s Department at Raymond Library also can’t get much easier, especially when you go in the building from the main entrance on the Central Ave side of the building. Simply turn right. There are three stairs, shown below, but there is also a ramp, blocked in this picture by my husband.
Your eye is immediately drawn to a lovely bay of easily accessible computers, complete with educational games, for kids to use and if yours are anything like the children with me that day (including my own), they will be anxious to investigate. Fortunately there are many stations available so, even on a busy day, you likely won’t wait long.
In case you haven’t already noticed, the renovations to the library include decor that reflects the culture and history of East Hartford and highlights two of the town’s biggest economic contributors over the years: aerospace and tobacco. Of course, the kid’s department only includes nods to the first of those two things, but you can find relics from East Hartford’s tobacco farming industry throughout the rest of the library.
Because we were there for Bring Your Child to the Library Day, there was a story time and craft planned. And though BYC to the L Day only happens once a year, such story/craft times occur frequently in the Raymond Library Children’s Program Room. Check out the library’s event calendar HERE.
After our activity I was treated to a tour of the rest of the recently renovated library facility while Bug enjoyed some play time with his daddy and little baby Bean, whose only photo from our visit seems to be this goofy family selfie from during story time:
Ah, second child problems. You could make a flip-book with the pictures I took of Bug during his first year. But I digress…
Of course one of the first places I asked about during our tour was the nearest bathrooms and, of course, there’s a spacious family restroom complete with a changing table right in the children’s department. So that you don’t have to worry about finding it, upon going up the three stairs that lead to the children’s department you take a hard left past a short railing and some tables. I’m told the door is typically seasonally decorated by one of the staff. Very cute and makes it even harder to miss.
The wing that the Children’s Department is in is entirely new and it shows, but the older part of the building has been beautifully restored as well. Drop ceilings installed decades ago were removed to expose gorgeous beams original to the structure, reclaimed wood details bring interest to pillars in the atrium, and art and artifacts can be found throughout the library. It’s a part of the library you may not necessarily see if you plan on coming with young children because you don’t need to walk through it to get to the kid’s section, but it’s really worth a peak if the littles are cooperating.
One of the most exciting parts of the main library building renovation, however, is the new “makerspace” located near the teen section. A makerspace, for those that haven’t heard of them before, is a designated space where various equipment is made available for public use. At Raymond Library there are currently 3D printers, a green screen, and a Carvey (a 3D carving machine, which I’ll admit I’d never heard of before) and there will be sewing machines, an embroidery machine, a Silhouette Cameo (a cutting machine similar to the Cricut), and more!
This isn’t really a space for young kids to come and free-play, but it’s an exciting resource for older children and adults. Residents of any town can come and take advantage of the equipment as well as classes for children, teens, and adults! Rebecca Livaich is the Makerspace Librarian and she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
After finishing up my tour and locating my three guys, we of course partook in the most important and time-honored of library traditions: selecting some books to check out and read at home. As part of Bring Your Child to the Library Day, Bug had received a couple of brand new books to keep…
…but we snagged a few titles to borrow too. And thanks to CT’s wonderful borrowIT CT program, it was super easy to do even though we aren’t East Hartford residents. We simply picked out our books, brought them to the self-checkout desk near the front entrance, scanned our hometown library card, and checked out our books. When we’re done with them, we’ll return them to our hometown library where they will then be returned to Raymond Library by deliverIT CT.
Isn’t it great when barriers to information and enrichment are removed and resources are made more freely and readily available to the community? borrowIT CT and deliverIT CT are state-funded programs that are frequently at risk of going to the chopping block when budget time rolls around. Definitely utilize these programs while you can and, if you find them to be of value, make sure your local legislators know. And with that, I shall descend from my virtual soapbox 😉
Raymond Library definitely provided a wonderful library experience and, if you’re in the area, you should stop by. Tell Sandy (Children’s & Teens Librarian) that Out and About Mom sent you!
East Hartford Public Library, Raymond Library branch
Sandra DiCicco, Children’s & Teen Librarian – email@example.com; Rebecca Livaich, Makerspace Librarian – firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday – Thursday: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm, Friday & Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Stroller Friendly: YES
Coffee Mug Friendly: Beverages in a spill-proof, covered container are OK and snacks (think dry cereal or toddler “puff” type foods) are acceptable in the Children’s Department. On fair weather days there is also outdoor seating available where you could enjoy a picnic lunch. See Raymond Library’s Patron Behavior Policy for more detailed information.
Baby Changing Station: YES
Food for Sale: NO
Outside Food Allowed: YES, but only in designated areas. Refer to Raymond Library’s Patron Behavior Policy for more information.
Cash Required: NO
Age Recommendations: ALL AGES
Dress Code: N/A
Evening/Weekend Hours: YES
Discounts: N/A, although everyone should check out their town library’s museum pass program! For East Hartford residents, information about Raymond Library’s program can be found here.
Birthday Party Venue: N/A
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