Summer of Awesome – OPL Centennial

by Lynn

Our Summer of Awesome was a little less awesome these past two weeks, because we did daily swim lessons in the middle of the day. And while that’s fun too, and good progress was made, it doesn’t really make for spectacular blog posts.

The floating! The gliding! The blowing of bubbles! See what I mean?

Since our ability to take splendid day trips was dampened, we did a lot of going to the park and having playdates and baking at home.

But the best thing we did is go to the library.

Our closest library is the Hazeldean branch, and quite frankly, it sucks for kids. The kids’ section is smack in the middle of one big room, and while your kids are yelling and running around and grabbing books from shelves and shouting, “MOMMY! READ THIS ONE! AND THIS ONE! AND THIS ONE!”, you’re fielding a ton of dirty looks from librarians and over-the-top shushing from people in Adult Education at Algonquin who are trying to get something done.

(Or, your kids are sitting quietly at a table reading to themselves, in which case, we can no longer be friends. Be well in life.)

Anyway, recently we discovered the Centennial branch, which is in Bell’s Corners. It’s not too much farther away and such a huge improvement. This is a library designed with kids in mind.

Centennial Branch of OPL

When you enter, the adult books, and a separate quiet study room, are to your right. The kids’ area is completely separate, off to your left. It’s a huge round room full of books just for kids, their own computers, and an adorable little circle for sitting and reading. Plus, with a massive skylight and kid-centered displays and decor, it’s bright and inviting and FUN.

Kids' Reading Room

I don’t feel the same need to keep a close rein on my kids here, and that is awesome. The kids’ room usually has its own librarian on staff and she’s friendly and helpful and above all, tolerant. The kids are free to explore the shelves and curl up on a miniature couch with their choices. They can ask me questions without me constantly telling them to be quiet, and if we want to have a little impromptu storytime, we can just go for it.

Cosy Little Couch

Not a bad way to spend an hour or so, with enough take-home goodies to cover the pre-dinner rush for the rest of the week.

All of the Ottawa Public Libraries have kids’ programs, but Centennial has more than most. They have Lego building events and craft series and storytime ALL the time and family puppet shows. It’s like they actually WANT you to bring your kids there. Really! Let them touch stuff! Let them explore! Let them be kids!


And the very best part about the library? It’s free. I usually tell the kids they can each take out three books. While the Captain limits himself strictly to this limit (because more than that would be breaking the rules, NO NO NO), and Gal Smiley is always delighted with whatever three titles I pick out for her, Gal Smiley can never limit herself to less than 10. And that’s okay! Take them all! Because it’s FREE.

And now, excuse me while we go do some serious reading.

Lynn is mom to 7-year-old Captain Jelly Belly, 5.5-year-old Gal Smiley, and 2.5-year-old Little Miss Sunshine. She blogs over at Turtlehead.



Filed under Activities for kids, Free, Outings

9 responses to “Summer of Awesome – OPL Centennial

  1. This place sounds AWESOME! I think it’s going to have to be a destination for us this Fall, despite us being in Orleans 🙂

  2. Krista R

    Great review of one of my favorite places! We have spent a lot of time there in the programs this summer – I’m surprised we didn’t run into you 🙂

  3. Kim

    Centenial is AMAZING! It is our home branch adn we love it!
    My son has special needs and this library has been accommodating beyond belief! The librarians are exceptionally helpful in finding, fixing and searching.
    It is worth the drive for any of their interactive programs – this summer they had a jungle program where kids ran throughout the library to find items form a list. Truly kid friendly!

  4. The Dickinson Library in Barrhaven is totally kid-oriented too. It is on it’s own FLOOR!
    They have a well stocked puppet theatre and lots of room to play.
    There are NO worries about noise and you can check out books on the kids floor at self-check and the kids can help without the ugly stares from the elderly patrons behind you…they can’t make it down teh stairs 😉
    Kidding!! There are elevators for those with strollers.

    With kid bathrooms right there (one each for boys and girls – in rooms so moms can go in with kids and strollers in tow without a problem, the same great kid programming, and at least one kid librarian.
    And a water fountain.

    • neeroc

      Thanks for the tip, I’m beside Centrepointe, but I don’t find it great for kids, I think Dickinson is just as close as Centennial so will check it out!

  5. Pingback: Rocking It Out at the Library « TurtleHead

  6. We’ve spent a lot of time at the Dickinson library too, but I still shushed Eve — now I feel stupid about that, thanks a lot Beth. I love the library, but I worked at bookstores and collected an insane amount of kids’ books before I even had kids, so really they can wander around our own house and find books they’ve never read before at any given time.

  7. neeroc

    Was sorely disappointed last week when I discovered they were closed for the month of July! V and I will be headed there soon.

  8. Pam

    I LOVE libraries. Unfortunately most of my time is spent catering to the kids in the libraries instead of being all about ME. Nah, I like it that way. My kids loved going to the library and have been known to say things like “I can hardly wait until Tuesday, ’cause we get to go to the LIBRARY! ” with great whoops of excitement.
    I also love visiting different libraries for the fun o it. Haven’t tried Centennial and we’ll see if we can go there soon. Ruth E Dickenson is our closest and we go there often. I like Nepean Centrepointe for the huge choice in the kids section. I like Carlingwood for the cozy atmosphere too. We went to St. Laurent recently and it wasn’t bad but part of the big room thing.
    Anyway, thanks for the idea!

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