Written by Sara Keller
When you envision a library, do you still think of old brick buildings, dusty books filling silent stacks, and shushing librarians? In the Indy area, libraries of this sort seem to be a thing of the past. Our modern libraries are vibrant hubs of community activity and resources, welcoming all to expand their minds and skills. Residents are able to utilize a shared collection of books, of course, but also computers, films, technology, classes, and more.
The Carmel Clay Public Library’s Main Building is no different. This beautifully designed building is a haven for the curious, the creative, and even for caregivers looking for a new space to explore with their littles. Grab your library card and your book bag, then head out for stories, learning, and play at this remarkable local library.
Children’s Resources at the Carmel Clay Public Library
Just past the round Children’s Resources desk at the Carmel Clay Public Library is an open-concept play area perfect for preschoolers and toddlers. A giant light board with colorful pegs, a la LiteBrite, seems to draw a constant crowd. Another popular feature is the Ranger Station playhouse, which includes ranger vest costumes and themed accessories.
Blocks, a road map rug, puzzles, and other toys are also available and one of the bins holding board books is covered in interactive sensory features on the sides to capture the attention of infants. Conveniently, family restrooms are located in this space, as well as a baby care room and stroller parking. The Discovery Room beyond the play area hosts children’s programming.
The Exploration Lab was designed for children ages 7-12 to have a space to tinker and play with an impressive variety of STEM toys and art supplies. Magnets, building bricks, marble runs, circuitry sets, and more are available on tables and even on the walls for kids to experiment with at their leisure.
Children ages 3-6 may check out a STEAM Exploration Jr. kit to enjoy with an adult in the Kids Area. Keep an eye out for Carmel Clay Public Library classes and programs planned for these spaces.
Available for Check Out
There are plenty of books for everyone, including board books, story books, chapter books, and non-fiction. Short on time? Take a Grab and Go bag. You can also check out kids’ movies and music. Less-traditional offerings include board games and cool kits containing educational toys and tools. Try games that teach coding, kits with multicultural themes, and toys focusing on specific fine motor skills.
Teen Area at the Carmel Clay Public Library
Seating and Games
The Carmel Clay Public Library’s Teen section was designed to host after-school study sessions and student collaboration. Plenty of comfy, inviting seating is available for individuals and groups and there’s even space to spread out and play some board games from the library’s collection.
Perhaps due to the facility’s location directly across from Carmel High School, the study rooms at the Carmel Clay Public Library are extremely popular. Fortunately, between the Teen and Adult sections of the library, there are literally dozens of them. Some feature screens for meetings and group projects. Reservations might be wise during after-school hours.
The Teen area has several computer stations available for use. A much larger computer lab is located upstairs.
More Amenities and Opportunities at the Carmel Clay Public Library
Adult Resources Upstairs
After you’ve loaded up on storybooks for your kids, don’t forget to head upstairs to find some reading material for yourself! There are thousands of fiction and non-fiction reads from which to choose. If you’re looking for suggestions, stop by the shelves of librarian recommendations near the big front windows across from the public computers.
In addition to books, you can select movies, music, board games, and educational kits. A Seed Library stand is at the ready, indicating free seeds will be available to the community come springtime.
If you’re at the library without kids, there are comfy reading chairs with fabulous views of Main Street situated by the windows on the north side of the building.
Library staff is available if you prefer to check out with a real person, but you can also make use of a self-checkout station in the main lobby as well as upstairs near the public computers.
Foundation Friends Bookstore
Stop by for amazing prices on books you can keep forever. This volunteer-run shop offers gently used books, movies, puzzles, and more at bargain rates ranging from $1-3 each. You can also snag cute gift items like T-shirts, mugs, and bookmarks.
Digital Media Lab
The Digital Media Lab is an amazing resource for Carmel Clay Public Library cardholders with a creative side. The Lab hosts three 3D printers available to residents to use to bring their artistic or inventive visions to life. Use of the printers is free, but there is a small fee to cover the plastic used, dependent on project size.
Rows of Mac computers equipped with the complete Adobe suite, Blender, GarageBand, iMovie, and more are also at the disposal of community members. Crafters will be excited to have access to a Cricut machine.
The Lab also offers a room outfitted with greenscreens and backdrops for video and photography projects. Camera equipment is also intended for shared use. Musicians can take advantage of two audio recording rooms, with a piano available on site.
Reservations are recommended in the Digital Media Lab. Anyone under the age of 13 must be supervised by an adult.
Java House Coffee
You may be familiar with Java House’s delicious cold brew coffee from their locations around Indianapolis, but it all started in Carmel. There’s plenty of seating in the library’s shop, making it an excellent option for meeting up with friends or starting that novel you checked out with something warm and cozy in hand.
Book Hold Lockers Outside
Inside the parking garage, facing the library entrance, is the Holds Pickup Locker where you can grab resources you’ve reserved online without making the trek into the main building.
As I played alongside my son in the Carmel Clay Public Library’s Exploration Lab, another visitor wondered aloud, “Who knew we’d be able to spend the whole day at the library?” There is definitely more here than just books to check out, figuratively and literally. Whether you want to snuggle up with a story, expand your mind, or play all day, this beautiful asset to Hamilton County and the City of Carmel is a destination worth your time.
Don’t forget to sign up for a Summer Reading Program this year!
These Indy bookstores are great places to shop for your child’s next read!
425 E Main Street