Mom’s Guide to the Downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library

Whether it’s you who needs to get out of the house or your kids who are itching to explore the world, we’ve all been there. Sometimes you’re organized and on time (ha!) and are able to utilize the programs in our community that have set time frames. Other times, though, it’s refreshing to have resources that offer educational, developmentally appropriate, and FUN activities to engage yourself and your littles at virtually any time of the day or week.

That’s right, folks, I’m talking about the Downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library. The Downtown library is aaa-mazing and there is no need to whisper about the plethora of resources available to us. Walk with me as I guide you through some of the many resources and how to best utilize the services available to you.

Mom's Guide to the Downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library

Free Parking

Does your blood pressure rise when you spy the parking meters? You can park in any of the following:

  • At a meter right in front
  • In their lot around back
  • 4th Ave Parking Ramp
  • Any space close to the library

Just use your library card number as a coupon code to get up to 2 hours of free parking. See? Easy.

Fascinating Entertainment

Can we just talk about the brilliant idea of having a window right above the returns slot? Please take the time to watch the conveyor belt as it takes the books away to be re-shelved! It’s a great conversation starter about what happens to the books after you return them. My boys could watch that belt all day long. No, seriously.

Mom's Guide to the Downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library

Why must you visit the skywalk on the second floor, you ask? To see if there are any trains coming, obviously. It’s the best view and so fun when you catch a train passing underneath. (If we hear a train coming while anywhere else in the library, we drop everything and rush to the skywalk!) When the weather allows, head up to the Living Learning Roof to have a picnic, explore the gardens, and enjoy the view.

Mom's Guide to the Downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library

Online Resources

The best thing busy moms can do is to check the online calendar, which conveniently codes the children’s activities in orange. Whether you’re looking for story time, science/math activities, parachute fun, or engaging nursery rhymes, they’ve got a full calendar of events.

The next thing you need to check out is the Resources & Services tab at the top of their website. There you can find links to ebooks/audio books (3M and Overdrive) and a wide variety of magazines (Zinio). While there, you’ll definitely want to bookmark Tumblebooks as a way to access animated ebooks for the munchkins in your life. This easy to navigate resource allows your kids to get a read aloud if you need a few minutes to complete a task, take care of a baby, or get supper on the table.

At the Library

The children’s section is almost perfect, isn’t it? Those library people get me. If I’m expected to find engaging books that my guys are into, my little people need something to do. The train table, Lego table, kitchenette area, puppet theater, and early literacy computers offer developmentally appropriate ways for my kids to play while I peruse. (I try and get the books done quickly so I can play, too!)

Mom's Guide to the Downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library

In addition to the inviting space and abundance of books, you can check out waaayyyy more than just that. Yes, there are movies, video games, and Playaway audio books on the second floor, as well as many computers available for use.

I’m talking more along the lines of the Launch Pads for kids, located right outside the children’s section. These adorable little orange tablets cater to two age groups: 3-5 and 5-7. Each Launch Pad has 10 pre-loaded apps that focus on a topic of your choice, and there are topics covering any/all subject areas! We are a family who doesn’t own a tablet (what?!) or allow our kids to do much on our phones, but appreciate the opportunity these tablets have to introduce our boys to technology without owning them ourselves.

Don’t forget to take a peek at the craft kits in the craft section on the second floor. The kits include all of the materials needed along with an instruction book. Use the materials you need and return the rest! What a fun idea, right? If this isn’t your thing, check out an adult coloring book as a way to get your mind off of laundry, dishes, and dinner and engage in something utterly mindless and satisfying.

If you need some ideas for how to help your child engage with all the books they’ve checked out once you get home, be sure to check out these toddler literacy activities.

Mom's Guide to the Downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library

Extra, Extra!

Did you know the Downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library offers FREE rooms for rent? If you could skip the cleaning of your own house and schedule your next meeting, birthday party, or baby shower at the already clean and beautiful library, wouldn’t you? Bring in your own food or consult with the Greyhound Deli to inquire about catering options.

Do you ever need to get some work done and want to shut the door so your kids can’t escape? There’s a room for that. Head to the second floor and find the family room right at the top of the steps. It has a computer for you and toys and an early literacy computer for the kids. You’re welcome.

Whether you are a veteran or a newbie, please take some time to invest in this incredible resource we have available to us. Invite a friend to meet you there or use it as an excuse to leave the house. And remember…

The more that you read, the more things you will know.

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go! –Dr. Seuss

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  1. Thanks Whitney! I learned some stuff. I never knew you could get 2 hours free parking!!!! YaY!

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